The First Hundred Days

“It is the duty of the president to propose and it is the privilege of the Congress to dispose.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

In the first hundred days, the people’s representative congress in general has been yielding to the strong leadership of Enrique Pena Nieto, the newly elected president of Mexico. It would appear that Nieto is taking his opportunity of a lifetime and going to do something with it, much like President Roosevelt did after the Great Depression in the United States.

Mexico is on the threshold of a new era in politics. The recent election brought in a new party and a change of power. This president is making his statement and articulating his vision of what the priorities should be and what steps are necessary for Mexico’s move toward modernity.

The structural reforms required to meet Nieto’s goals for the future of Mexico during his administration (2012–2018) will be decisive, affecting the generations to come. Obvious priorities for a country like Mexico are initiatives in the areas of labor, taxation, energy and social security. These are urgent and simply can’t wait; the time is now.

Now might also be time for changes in the Mexican gaming industry. When forecasting 2012 last year, I predicted that no relevant changes would occur in the Mexican gaming industry until after the election. Now, with the election behind us, Mexico can begin building a solid foundation for a bright future in gaming. The stage is set, particularly as the current gaming regulations in Mexico are archaic and outdated and do not offer any legal security to domestic or foreign investors. Anyone who decides to invest in Mexico under the present set-up really doesn’t know what they are getting into.

The Ministry of Interior is the ultimate authority over the Mexican gaming industry. They call the shots and give final word. However, they cannot be held totally accountable for all the problems that exist now and that have happened in recent years. Mexico doesn’t have the regulatory tools or even the minimum budget in place to make the ministry’s work efficient or effective. But nonetheless, we cannot deny that legal gaming companies operating in Mexico have experienced many problems as a result of governmental inexperience, insecurity, illegal gambling openly operating throughout the country and a general lack of regulation.

However, the new Congress and new President Nieto are now proposing that a new gambling bill be debated by politicians and industry participants alike in a cooperative effort to make changes, cleaning up the past, starting fresh and moving forward into a new era of Mexican gaming.

The political debate over gaming is to be a far-reaching and speedy resolution to the underlying problems that this emerging industry has experienced. It’s being looked upon as an opportunity to resolve the issues that are holding back major investments by domestic and international gaming companies.

The time table set by Nieto is that this debate must not take longer than 18 months, beginning in the first year of the administration. The reason is simple: If we really want things to change in Mexico, both the federal government and industry participants should yield positions and privileges in the interest of progress and the establishment of a stable and lucrative business environment for everyone involved.

It’s my position that the federal government will allow all existing authorized licenses to be exploited by their operating companies and licensees. However, these companies would have to provide all of the necessary mechanisms for their gaming locations to comply with minimum standards, bringing everything up to code, so to speak. Standardizing the industry in regulation and enforcement will then attract the domestic and international investment it needs to grow and prosper.

Mexico has the elements necessary to become the undisputed leader of the gaming industry in Latin America as well as a major player worldwide. For this reason, an important Spanish company has decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Mexico and wait for the market to mature and develop properly. This company sees the light at the end of the tunnel and is doubling down on Nieto’s administration desire to do the job.

My advice to all the players in this industry is to take the risk now and invest in Mexico, because the future of gaming in Mexico has begun—and will be moving ahead from here muy rapido!

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