Mexico Online Poker Regulation Could Spell Trouble for Players

3 min read

Mexico poker laws await new online gambling legislation
Mexico online poker has long been a grey area, which has allowed the offshore market to thrive, but tighter regulation could change that. (Image:

Mexico is seeking to regulate online gaming and Mexico online poker with a new gambling bill due to be presented to the House of Representatives next week. However, while draft bills north of the border have been welcomed with tears of joy by poker players recently, this one might just send a chill down your spine, especially if you’re an American who fled to Mexico in the wake of Black Friday in order to continue your online poker career.

President of Mexican Gaming Commission Fernando Zárate Salgado announced this week that the new bill will be presented September 9th, and while the details are largely unknown as yet,  it’s believed that both online poker and online gambling will be addressed. A good idea in light of the fact that the existing Mexican gambling laws were enacted in 1947 and haven’t been modified since, beyond a tiny tweak in 2004, which may be why they have little to say on the subject of Internet gambling.

Poker Refugees

As such, online gaming in Mexico has largely been a grey area. Currently, operators are required to partner with Mexican companies; however, offshore sites have offered their services to Mexican customers with impunity for years and the offshore market is huge. That’s the reason many Americans fled to Mexico after their favorite online poker sites were shut down by the US government: simply to keep on grinding.

There was even a “full relocation service,” Poker Refugees, set up in 2011, that helps players find a place to live, obtain the necessary documents and complete the paperwork in order to establish themselves in Mexico and reactivate their online poker accounts.

However, Mexican regulation is likely to spell the end of the fiesta. As is the case with the new US markets, heightened regulation and taxation means Mexico will step up the fight against offshore dominance, possibly outlawing many of the sites favored by American ex-pats (and native Mexicans).

Draconian Proposals

In fact, if the language of the new bill is anything like that of Senator Maria Espinoza’s proposed legislation, which was presented last May, then there could be cause for alarm. Espinoza’s draconian proposal sought to restrict the issue of online gaming licenses to those operators who held, or had been granted, licenses for land-based casinos.

Furthermore, all operating companies would have to be legally established within Mexico and servers would have to be based in authorized locations within the country. All in all, it was a fairly long list of licensing stipulations that would essentially exclude all major online poker companies from offering their services to Mexican players. And while there’s no reason yet to believe that the proposals of new bill will echo those of Senator Espinoza’s, poker players who are Mexican residents must wait until September 9th to find out what their future might hold.

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