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29/10/19 - Gaming in Mexico: overview

Law stated as at 01 Aug 2019 • Mexico

 

A Q&A guide to gaming in Mexico.

The Q&A provides a high level overview of the legislative framework of gambling regulation; the regulatory authorities; gambling products; land-based gambling; regulation and licensing; online gambling; B2B and B2C operations; mobile gaming and interactive gambling; social gaming; blockchain technology; gambling debts; tax; advertising and developments and reform.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Gaming Country Q&A Tool.

This Q&A is part of the Gaming Global Guide. The gaming global guide serves as a starting point for understanding the regulatory framework of land-based and online gaming.

 

 

Legislative framework of gambling regulation

 

Overview

1. What legislation applies to gambling?

 

The general principle in Mexico is that private parties, entities or individuals, can conduct any activity to the extent it is not expressly prohibited or restricted. In the same way, gambling is currently a permitted activity in Mexico, subject to obtaining government authorisation to conduct gaming activities from the competent authority.

 

Gambling is an activity subject to federal regulation rather than state or local level regulation (except where tax issues are involved).

 

Under Article 124 of the Mexican Constitution, the authorities and competences not expressly assigned by the Constitution to federal government officials are deemed to be reserved to the states.

 

Section X of Article 73 of the Constitution (an amendment to Article 73), through a Decree published on 29 December 1947, specifically granted authority to the federal legislature to legislate on games where bets are crossed (wagers) and games involving draws of numbers or symbols.

 

Based on the amendment to section X of Article 73 of the Constitution, the federal legislature enacted the Federal Games and Draws Law (Gaming Law), which was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) on 31 December 1947 and has been in effect since 5 January 1948. The Gaming Law continues to be the statute that currently governs and regulates gaming activities in Mexico.

 

The original Gaming Law was a very general statute that required either supplementary legislation or regulations to provide the necessary detailed content for its adequate application and operability. With the publication of the Regulations of the Federal Games and Draws Law (Gaming Regulations) in the DOF on 17 September 2004 (which came into effect 20 business days later), the federal government acted to supplement the Gaming Law with a more detailed and thorough regulation of gambling activity.

 

The Gaming Regulations have subsequently been amended (first on 19 October 2012, then on 23 October 2013). Although they attempted to clarify the technical elements of slot machine gaming activities, specifically related to skilful electronic games, the first amendments were so ambiguous that many of them were again revised and clarified with the decree published on 23 October 2013.

 

For example, under the 2012 amendments, slot machine games (máquinas tragamonedas) were permitted as long as there was authorisation through an express permit or authorisation issued by the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación) (SEGOB), while now the conduct of such gaming activities is prohibited. However, the same devices that under the 2012 amendments qualified as slot machines are now permitted and qualify as electronic gaming devices for number or symbol draws through the definition of "draw of numbers or symbols through devices".

 

Since a change in government in December 2012, and specifically as of February 2014, the House of Representatives (Cámara de Diputados) and SEGOB made multiple commitments and communications stating that they will collaborate and work closely together to:

  • Draft a new legal framework that meets the needs of a globalised gaming industry and addresses all regulatory needs based on the technological developments now available.
  • Offer certainty and clarity to permit-holders, gaming operators and their customers.
  • Incentivise growth and investment in the gaming industry.
  • Facilitate the application of a legal framework to SEGOB and any other competent authorities.

 

The result of those efforts is the Bill of a new Federal Gaming Law that is currently under review in the legislature and was filed on 27 November 2014 (Draft Gaming Bill). The Draft Gaming bill's main purposes are, among others, to:

  • Update the legal framework according to the evolution of gaming and betting and to acknowledge gaming activities that already exist (such as card games).
  • Create a new autonomous authority as regulator of all gaming-related activities.
  • The Gaming Regulations were challenged by the Chamber of Deputies of the Federal Congress before the Mexican Supreme Court. The challenge was the alleged overstepping of the authority which issued the regulations by introducing and regulating activities not clearly addressed by law. Although the Supreme Court justices discussed the possible violation of certain articles of the Gaming Law, the majority decided that the regulations did not violate any provision of either the Constitution or the statute and, therefore, the regulations in general continue to be legally enforceable.

 

Definitions of gambling

2. What is the legal definition of gambling in your jurisdiction and what falls within this definition?

 

General definition

 

"Gambling" is usually defined as games involving wagers. The Gaming Law does not include a legal definition of gambling or wagers. Article 1 of the Gaming Law contains a general prohibition which states that within the national territory of Mexico, games of chance and games where bets are crossed are prohibited. Further, Article 2 gives some examples of what are considered to be games and expressly provides that the following games are permitted:

  • Chess.
  • Dominoes and others of similar nature.
  • Dice.
  • Bowling.
  • Billiards.
  • Ball games in all their forms and denominations.
  • Races, horse races and car races.
  • In general all kinds of sports.
  • Draws.

 

Article 2 states that any other games not indicated should be considered prohibited.

 

Despite this list, the Gaming Law provides that the conduct of games where bets are crossed and draws of numbers or symbols occur require a permit from the SEGOB (Article 4, Gaming Law). In addition, Article 3 of the Gaming Law provides that the federal executive power, through SEGOB, will regulate, authorise, control and supervise any kind of games where bets are crossed and draws occur.

 

Article 3 of the Gaming Regulations provided some legal definitions in 2004. These included the following:

 

  • Wager or bet. This means an amount which can be valued in Mexican currency and that is risked in a game contemplated by the Gaming Law and regulated by the Gaming Regulations, with the possibility of obtaining or winning a prize, which, when added to the risked amount, will be higher than the amount that was risked.
  • Chance. This means the uncertainty on which the result of a game is dependent and which is completely independent from the will of the player.
  • Game where a bet is crossed. This is any kind of game where a bet is crossed, among those provided by the Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations and authorised by SEGOB.
  • Prize. This is a payment in cash or in kind that is obtained by the winner of a game where a bet is crossed or a draw made.
  • Draw. This is an activity by which the holder of a ticket through the prior selection of a number, combination of numbers or any other symbol, obtains the right to participate, whether gratuitously or through a payment, in a previously-established procedure which must be approved by SEGOB, pursuant to which a number, combination of numbers, symbol or combination of symbols is determined and the outcome of which results in the selection of one or more winners of a prize.
  • Draw of numbers or symbols through devices. This is an activity in which the participant, through an apparatus or device of whatever nature, subject to chance, makes a bet, through the insertion of a note, coin or chip, or through an electronic payment device or similar object, for the purpose of obtaining a prize.

 

Based on the above definitions in the Gaming Regulations and considering there is no definition of "gambling" in the Gaming Law, further definitions have generally been developed by the permit process, through which authorisation to conduct gaming activities is issued by SEGOB. SEGOB sets the parameters for what can be done and where and how such gaming activity can occur pursuant to administrative gaming permits issued to each individual gaming permit-holder.

 

Private gambling is therefore regulated, to a limited extent, and only permitted for holders of a federal permit.

 

The Draft Gaming bill (see Question 1) includes some of the definitions listed above, as well as a general definition of "gambling", which is any kind of games in which bets are made among players, viewers or any third party (Article 3, section XXII, Draft Gaming bill).

 

All gambling activity is regulated by law, except for public gambling, that is, the National Lottery, which is ruled by its own law and includes the two lottery agencies owned and managed by the Federal Government:

  • National Lottery for Public Assistance (Lotería Nacional para la Asistencia Pública).
  • Sport Picks for Public Assistance (Pronósticos para la Asistencia Pública).

 

Online gambling

 

There is currently no specific legal definition of online gambling in Mexican law.

 

The Draft Gaming bill defines online gambling as gambling activity conducted through any electronic device which can be connected to the internet and without any physical contact among the participant and the permit-holder (Article 3, section XXIII, Draft Gaming bill).

 

The operation of online gambling must be expressly authorised in the relevant permit granted by SEGOB.

 

As well as obtaining a permit for online gambling or a drawing of numbers and/or symbols, operators must also meet certain operating conditions, such as having a reliable remote betting system, cash control system and an internal control system.

 

Land-based gambling

 

There is currently no specific legal definition of land-based gambling in Mexican law.

 

The Draft Gaming bill defines "live gambling" (rather than land-based gambling) as gambling activity conducted at a table with the participation of one or several individuals, other than participants, such as card games, roulette or dice, and others which are conducted against the house or other participants (Article 3, Section XXIV, Draft Gaming bill).

 

Regulatory authorities

3. What are the regulatory or governmental bodies that are responsible for supervising gambling?

 

Under the Gaming Law, the following bodies supervise gambling in Mexico:

  • Ministry for the Interior (SEGOB). SEGOB has the authority to regulate, authorise, control and supervise games where bets are crossed and any form of draws and such activities cannot be conducted without the prior authorisation of SEGOB, who will provide the requirements and conditions that the permit-holder must comply with.
  • Gaming Bureau. The Gaming Bureau is the competent authority to authorise, control, supervise and enforce all activities related to bets and draws and to issue the relevant gaming licences.

 

The authority/competence granted to SEGOB continues to be discretionary to a significant degree, as the scope of the Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations is still very broad and in many instances gaming activities are not thoroughly or consistently regulated, resulting in a great deal of room for interpretation. This inherent ambiguity in the regulations has led to a series of allegations of unequal regulatory administration, favouritism and corruption on the part of SEGOB.

 

For the purposes of this article, SEGOB acts through the competent bureaux or officials, as provided for in the Gaming Law, its regulations or SEGOB internal regulations.

 

The Gaming Regulations also provide that SEGOB is in charge of interpreting and applying the provisions of the Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations for administrative purposes. Further, the Gaming Bureau is in charge of:

  • Any hearings, regulatory proceedings and the resolution of matters related to the supervision and surveillance of compliance with the Gaming Law and Gaming Regulations.
  • Issuing permits.
  • Other gaming-related acts or activities.

 

(Article 2, paragraph 3, Gaming Regulations.)

The Gaming Bureau, which is an administrative unit of SEGOB is assisted by the Government Unit of SEGOB. The Consultation Council assists the Gaming Bureau in complying with public policies on transparency and accountability

 

In addition, a permit is an administrative authorisation issued by SEGOB, which allows an individual or entity to conduct and operate games where bets are crossed and/or draws occur (Article 3, Gaming Regulations). These administrative permits are issued for a set period and their scope is restricted by the terms and conditions specifically determined in the permit itself, as determined and drafted by SEGOB or as a practical matter drafted by the permit applicant and approved by SEGOB. The Government Unit of SEGOB has the powers to supervise, process and authorise the acts set out in the Gaming Law and other applicable statutes and provisions, and for these purposes, may be assisted by the General Director of the Gaming Bureau (Article 11, section XIII, SEGOB Internal Regulations).

 

The Draft Gaming bill creates the National Institute of Draws and Gambling, which has more attributes and authority than the Gaming Bureau, but would still be part of SEGOB.

 

Gambling products

4. What gambling products have been specifically identified by legislation, and what different requirements have been established for each?

 

The Gaming Law does not specifically identify gambling products but lists what are considered as games, and if bets are crossed in any of those games or for any draws, a permit from the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) is required.

 

However, in some instances the Gaming Regulations do specify some gambling products, including but not limited to:

  • Horse races in formal horse race tracks.
  • Dog races in formal dog race tracks.
  • Frontón (racket games played in formal sport venues).
  • Horse races in provisional race tracks.
  • Cock fights in regional fairs.
  • Remote betting facilities or foreign books (locations for the taking and crossing of bets and wagers in sporting events and games permitted by the Gaming Law, broadcast in real time and simultaneously on video and audio, as well as for the conduct of number draws, which include bingo, lottery and electronic machine gaming).
  • Draws, which can be conducted in the following formats:
    • draws with the sale of tickets;
    • draws without the sale of tickets;
    • instant draws;
    • commercialisation system draws;
    • draws of symbols or numbers;
    • draws broadcast on mass communications media; and
    • draws of numbers or symbols through devices (which is the same as slot machine gaming in other jurisdictions and was considered to be slot machine gaming pursuant to the amendment to the Regulations published in October 2012 and reverted to in October 2013).

 

This is an example of the inconsistency of the different sources of law.

 

The Draft Gaming bill specifies the legal gambling products permitted, which are mainly the same as those listed above, expressly adding live gaming.

 

Poker

Poker is not specifically regulated. In the Gaming Regulations, Article 63 establishes that gambling card games are permitted in regional fairs.

In the Draft Gaming bill, card games are considered as part of the live gambling category.

 

Betting

Betting is classified as remote betting.

 

Sports betting

Sports betting is classified as remote betting.

 

Casino games

Casino games are not specifically regulated. However, the Draft Gaming bill considers them as live gambling.

 

Slot and other machine gaming

The 2013 amendment to the Gaming Regulations authorised machine gaming. However, such activities are defined as draws of numbers or symbols through devices and, contrary to the 19 October 2012 amendments to the Gaming Regulations, slot gaming is specifically prohibited by the amendment to Article 12 of the Gaming Regulations.

 

Nevertheless, the element that differentiates the prohibited activities (that is, slot machines) is the skill element, as slot machines are now defined as devices through which a user, subject to skill, makes a bet to obtain a specific or undetermined prize.

 

These recent changes were made to try to eliminate previous inconsistencies and clarify that machine gaming is permitted if the chance element and not the skill element is involved. However, there is still a great deal of confusion on the part of permit-holders as to just what is and what is not allowed.

 

Terminal-based gaming

Terminal-based gaming might be considered as draws of symbols or numbers through devices.

 

Bingo

Bingo is under the category of draws of symbols or numbers.

 

Lottery

A lottery is under the category of draws of symbols or numbers.

 

Land-based gambling

 

Regulation/licensing

5. What is the licensing regime (if any) for land-based gambling?

 

The Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations do not make a distinction between games of skill or games of chance. In any event, such a distinction might be irrelevant since the element that determines whether any form of activity is a gambling product, and therefore subject to authorisation from SEGOB, is whether there is a wager. So even if there are elements of skill or chance in the determination of the winner of a prize, this will not be the deciding factor for the purposes of licensing/authorisation.

 

Available licences

The following permits are available:

  • Permits for the taking of wagers in horse race tracks, dog race tracks, racket traditional ball game (fronton) venues, and for the installation of remote betting facilities and rooms for the conduct of number or symbol draws.
  • Permits for the taking of wagers in regional fairs.
  • Permits for the taking of wagers in horse races in provisional or temporary race tracks and cock fights.
  • Permits to conduct draws.

(Article 20, Gaming Regulations.)

 

The specific gaming activities that can be carried out by a permit-holder depend on the individual terms of each permit granted by SEGOB.

  • If the permit-holder intends to carry out any activity other than the ones expressly authorised, a separate permit must be obtained.

 

Eligibility

 

The permits listed above will only be granted in the following cases:

  • Permits for the taking of wagers in horse race tracks, dog race tracks, and so on, will only be granted to Mexican commercial companies.
  • Permits for the taking of wagers in regional fairs will only be granted to Mexican entities.
  • Permits for the taking of wagers in horse races in provisional or temporary race tracks and cock fights will only be granted to Mexican commercial companies and individuals.
  • Permits to conduct draws will only be granted to Mexican individuals or entities.

(Article 20, Gaming Regulations.)

 

Application procedure

The length of the procedure to obtain the permits will depend on, among others, the:

 

  • Full and correct delivery of all the necessary documents and requirements to the Gaming Bureau.
  • Number of permits that are under review.
  • Type of permit and other elements that may be considered before the issuance of a permit.
  • Other external elements.

 

There are various specific requirements to be complied with by all applicants for the different types of gambling activities..

 

Applicants must file detailed information on the reasons, manner, time frames and location of their operation so that the authority can assess compliance with all the applicable requirements.

 

The legislation does not provide for specific time frames in which SEGOB must grant permits however under the Federal Administrative Procedural Law, if the authority does not issue a resolution within four months from the date of filing, the request should be deemed to be denied.

 

Duration of licence and cost

 

The duration of the various permits under Article 33 of the Gaming Regulations is as follows:

  • Permits for taking wagers in horse race tracks, dog race tracks, fronton venues, as well as for installing remote betting facilities and rooms for number or symbol draws: between one year and 25 years and can be renewed for 15-year periods, which is typically stated in the relevant permit.
  • Permits for taking wagers in regional fairs, cock fights and temporary horse race tracks: up to 28 days or the duration of the authorised season.
  • Permits for draws for advertising purposes last until the delivery of the relevant prizes.
  • Permits for draws with tickets, without tickets or instant draws: up to one year.

 

The Gaming Bureau has the discretion to determine the duration within the limits set out above.

 

The permits are free of charge, but depending on each type of permit and the prizes to be received or the income the permit-holder obtains from undertaking the authorised gambling activities, permit-holders may have to pay rights or duties.

 

Changes of corporate control

In transactions related to the transfer or alienation of shares/membership interest, mergers, bye-law amendments, or any other changes to the corporate structure, that involve a change of control, the permit-holders are required to give prior written notice to SEGOB so that it can validate compliance of all applicable requirements of the new equity holder, officer and so on.

 

However, permits are non-transferable and cannot be transferred, or assigned in any manner (Article 31, Gaming Regulations).

 

6. What are the limitations or requirements imposed on land-based gambling operators?

 

Once permits are issued, permit-holders or operators must comply with several provisions related to their organisational corporate documents, transfer restrictions and operative schemes. Further, permit-holders/operators must evidence compliance with several rules related to the corporate or third party guaranty or other forms of sureties that need to be in place at all times and with the rules applicable to prizes.

 

Prohibitions

 

The only express prohibition on land-based gambling is found in Article 9 of the Gaming Law. This states that places where games and bets are crossed, or where draws are wagered, must not be established close to schools or offices. However, in practice this restriction is not enforced by the Gaming Bureau or SEGOB and is considered out-of-date but is still in Article 38 of the Gaming Regulations.

 

Restrictions

 

There is no specific particular limitation or requirement for permit-holders, such as a ban on local residents gambling.

Article 5 of the Gaming Regulations lists general access restrictions on gaming facilities to individuals who are:

  • Minors (under 18 years).
  • Under the influence of alcohol.
  • Carrying weapons of any kind.
  • Police or military officials on duty.
  • Disturbing the peace of the facility with their behaviour.
  • Cheating or have been caught -holder's internal regulations previously approved by SEGOB.

 

The Draft Gaming bill intends to change or supplement these restrictions as follows:

  • The minimum legal age to participate in gambling activities would be 21 years.
  • People registered in the self-exclusion programme would not be able to participate in gambling activities.
  • Employees of the National Institute of Draws and Gambling would not be able to participate in gambling activities.

 

Anti-money laundering legislation

 

Under the Federal Law in order to Prevent and Identify Transactions with Resources of Illicit Origin. (Anti-Money Laundering Law), enacted in 2012, customers in the gaming industry in Mexico may be subject to an identification process and in some cases, details of the operation together with information related to customers must be recorded on a database, protected and, in some cases, disclosed to the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público) (SHCP).

 

Under the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, any gaming transactions considered as "vulnerable activities" must be identified. "Vulnerable activities" are considered as transactions in which money laundering is more likely to exist and individuals conducting those activities are subject to certain obligations pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

 

Games with wagers or draws that result in transactions equal to or more than the minimum legal wage in Mexico City multiplied by 325 are considered as "vulnerable activities". The permit-holders who operate such activities are required to report to SHCP when such transactions equal or exceed the minimum legal wage in Mexico City multiplied by 645 (Article 17, section I, Anti-Money Laundering Law).

 

With respect to gambling activities, permit-holders must (Article 18, Anti-Money Laundering Law):

  • Identify the users and confirm the information provided through official documentation, and maintain copies of this documentation.
  • If a business relation is established, require the users or clients to state their occupation.
  • Confirm with customers the information regarding the beneficiary of the activity, if applicable.
  • Save, protect and avoid the destruction or cover-up of information or documentation regarding the vulnerable activity.
  • Grant access to undertake visits and inspections.
  • Carry out reports and filing obligations.

 

Complying with the Anti-Money Laundering Law obligations will require a significant use of human and administrative resources by permit-holders who must assign personnel and implement procedures, create manuals and systems to exercise proper control to detect vulnerable activities, maintain and preserve information and documents gathered from clients and file monthly notices.

 

Permit-holders can only pay prizes in cash up to a certain amount (approximately, MXN271,212.90), any amount in excess of the this must be paid by electronic means or cashier's check.

 

Online gambling

 

Regulation/licensing

7. What is the licensing regime (if any) for online gambling?

Online gambling is not specifically regulated in Mexico. Some indirect references to online activity appear in the Gaming Regulations, addressing issues related to online gambling, however, these references cannot be considered as a thorough or precise regulation of online gambling activities.

 

As noted in Question 3, the scope of the Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations is very broad and SEGOB's has wide discretion in its authority/competence to regulate, authorise, control and supervise gaming activities under those laws. This broad discretion is evidenced in some, but not all, issued permits granting specific authorisation for the conduct of internet gaming or online gambling as determined by SEGOB, pursuant to the Gaming Law and Gaming Regulations.

 

The Gaming Law is silent on online gambling, which should not, however, be considered as a prohibition on conducting or operating authorised gambling activities using a specific means of communication such as the internet, because:

  • The Gaming Law was published in 1947 long before the internet existed.
  • If a gaming activity has been authorised, under the broad terms of the Gaming Law, SEGOB must, as a matter of practice, set out with reasonable specificity the terms and conditions of such authorisation in the corresponding gaming permits.

 

Gambling via the internet or other electronic means is therefore seen as a different means of conducting an authorised gambling activity.

 

Article 85 of the Gaming Regulations provides for remote betting gaming facilities to take bets over the internet, the phone or electronically, for which purpose they must establish an internal control system for the transactions performed using those means of communication, describing in writing the proceedings and rules that assure the integrity of the games is protected and to prevent the manipulation of the betting system. Such a system must record at least, the:

  • Account number and identity of the individual placing the bet.
  • Date, time, number of transactions, wagered amounts and a record of requested picks or selections.

 

The method used to solicit bets using electronic means of communication must be previously approved by SEGOB (Article 85, Gaming Regulations).

 

Further, wagers/bets will only be taken or crossed in cash, except for those conducted/placed through the internet, via telephone or electronically (Article 86, Gaming Regulations). In these cases, the wagers and bets are considered to be placed when payment confirmation is received from the corresponding banking institution, regardless of whether the confirmation is made to the player or the permit-holder.

 

Permit-holders with a permit to operate a remote betting facility must comply with the requirements for the issuance of receipts and, specifically for internet, telephone or electronic wagers/bets, should provide that where receipts are issued:

  • The information must be recorded in the central betting system immediately after payment.
  • The player must have access to consult or print a certification of their folio number and be informed of their rights arising from the gambling transaction.
  • Telephone wagers must be recorded in an audio file.

 

In connection with the above, the language used by the Gaming Regulations is ambiguous as it only uses the word for bets/wagers generally on sporting events (apuestas) while allowing the remote betting facilities to use means such as the internet, telephone or any other electronic means to conduct the gaming activities they are authorised to conduct.

 

Despite the strict interpretation of the apuestas reference, it is not only bets on sporting events may be crossed using online means of communication. Under Article 104 of the Gaming Regulations, draws can be conducted by the internet or the telephone network, and therefore it can reasonably be interpreted that any form of bet, which includes any form of authorised draw, can be conducted through electronic means.

 

The apparent contradiction in the Gaming Regulations has, as previously mentioned, been resolved in favour of broader internet wagers on gaming, through SEGOB's issuance of permits that are more inclusive of online games.

 

The way in which bets/wagers arising from remote betting facilities are collected or crossed, and prizes paid pursuant to that, must be set out in the permit-holder's internal gaming regulations (which are approved by SEGOB). The limitations must also be set out in the internal gaming regulations, and are specific to each permit-holder. Therefore, each permit-holder's gaming regulations approved by SEGOB can limit or broaden the extent of the gambling activities conducted via the internet or through other telecommunication means.

 

As a result, the specific type of online gambling products and the extent to which they can be conducted or offered depend on the scope of each permit, the permit-holder's internal gaming regulations approved by SEGOB, and the methods approved by SEGOB.

 

In addition, under Article 104 of Chapter I of Book Four of the Gaming Regulations, where draws are conducted in the Mexican territory in which participants are obtained through the internet or telephone, a folio number must be given to the participant, and in each case the player or participant must have online access to consult or print a certification of their folio number and the rights to which they are entitled as participants of the draw.

 

The winner of the draw may be determined by the use of computer systems which, applied adequately, randomly determine the winning numbers. However, this system can only be used when the characteristics/computer system through which the winning numbers will be randomly determined are disclosed by the permit-holder to SEGOB, who can conduct inspections to verify the correct functionality of the systems.

 

Available licences

As stated, under the current Gaming Law and its Regulations there are no available licences specific for online gambling activities.

 

Eligibility

Some permit-holders have launched their own internet gambling websites to take wagers via the internet, allowing different kinds of payments.

 

Only permit-holders who conduct authorised gambling activities will be eligible to conduct the same gambling activities for which they are authorised using online or other electronic means.

 

Application procedure

Currently the application procedure is the same as for any land-based gambling operation (see Question 5).

 

Duration of licence and cost

Duration and cost are the same as for land-based gambling activities (see Question 5).

 

Changes of corporate control

See Question 5, Changes of corporate control.

 

8. What are the limitations or requirements imposed on online gambling operators?

 

There are no specific provisions applicable for online gambling operators in Mexico.

Also, there are no independent or autonomous online gambling activities currently authorised in Mexico: any online gambling operation must be linked to a land-based gambling permit (see Question 6 and Question 7).

 

Prohibitions

The prohibitions are the same as for land-based gambling activities (see Question 6).

 

Restrictions

The restrictions are the same as for land-based gambling activities (see Question 6).

 

Anti-money laundering legislation

The anti-money laundering legislation is the same as for land-based gambling activities (see Question 6).

 

B2B and B2C

9. Is there a distinction between the law applicable between B2B operations and B2C operations in online gambling?

 

The Gaming Law and Gaming Regulations do not make a distinction between the law applicable to B2B operations and B2C operations.

 

In any event, online gambling products can only be offered to an entity that is a duly authorised operator and/or permit-holder who has obtained its corresponding permit from SEGOB. This permit should expressly allow the offering of any such online gambling products. The ability to offer these products will also be determined based on the permit-holders' internal gaming regulations approved by SEGOB, as well as the methodology to conduct gaming activities via the internet or using other means of communication approved by SEGOB.

 

There is no restriction governing or regulating the offering of B2B services to a Mexican permit-holder who has been authorised to offer online gambling products, as long as the ones contracting with the player are the directly authorised permit-holders, even when such online gambling products are offered through a white label site run by a third-party supplier. As the offering is in conjunction with the permit-holder's authorisations, the activities of the B2B provider will be bound by the permit's requirements and approved methodologies for online play. As a result, SEGOB can dictate server location and any and all technical aspects of the B2B provider's operations as they are derived from the permit-holder's authorisation.

 

Technical measures

10. What technical measures are in place (if any) to protect consumers from unlicensed operators, such as ISP blocking and payment blocking?

 

There are no technical measures in the Gaming Law or the Gaming Regulations to protect consumers from unlicensed operators. Despite this, there are non-mandatory Mexican Official Standards (NOMs) designed to assure consumers that the gaming electronic equipment and the systems used for online gaming are sufficiently robust and assure a fair result from the gaming activity.

 

Mobile gambling and interactive gambling

11. What differences (if any) are there between the regulation of mobile gambling and interactive gambling on television?

 

There are no differences between the regulation of mobile gambling and interactive gambling on television.

 

The Gaming Regulations refer to the taking of bets/wagers for games and draws over the internet, telephone and other means of communication. However, whether mobile and interactive gambling on television can be offered depends on the scope of the individual permit-holder's authorised activities, internal gaming regulations approved by the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB), and the approved methods of conducting gaming activities.

 

Social gaming

12. How is social gaming regulated in your jurisdiction?

In the context of social gaming, or gaming content offered on social networks, if games are free to play, such gaming activity would not be subject to the Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations and would not be specifically regulated by any other statute in Mexico.

 

However, given the nature of Mexican gaming statutes (outdated, ambiguous and giving the regulator a great deal of discretion), some entities undertaking social gaming activities have approached the Gaming Bureau to obtain a ruling or written confirmation of permitted criteria. However, the Gaming Bureau has so far taken the position that the corresponding activities fall outside the scope of its competence and therefore are not subject to Mexican gaming regulation.

 

Further, if the social gaming activities do not involve a wager which could result in the payment of a prize to the participant, as defined by the Gaming Regulations, such gaming activities would not be regulated as a gambling activity in Mexico.

 

In addition, if players using social gaming products are allowed to purchase extra credits for real money, but there is no actual prize to be paid (that is, if the player wins only the benefit of receiving additional credits which allow the player to continue playing), such "prize/benefit" does not qualify as a prize under the Gaming Regulations and the Gaming Law, and therefore it is still not regulated as a gambling activity in Mexico.

 

The Draft Gaming bill would exclude social gaming from the application of the law, as long as there is no bet or wager that can result in obtaining an economic benefit or loss in such activity.

 

Blockchain technology

13. To what extent is blockchain used in gambling in your jurisdiction? How is it regulated?

 

The different activities that are currently carried out using virtual assets are not yet fully regulated. Only Financial Technology Institutions (Instituciones de Tecnología Financiera), (ITF) are authorised to perform B2B or B2C transactions using electronic payments and virtual assets.

 

In accordance with the above, gambling activities are not specifically regulated by the Financial Technology Institutions Law (Ley Fintech), and therefore they are considered not allowed.

 

In addition, there no specific provision in the Gaming Law for games and draws using virtual assets, and only activities that are expressly mentioned in the permit granted by SEGOB are permitted.

 

Further, there are certain platforms that are not gaming activities (for example, CFD trading) and although they would qualify as trading in a special kind of derivative, the Mexican regulator, in this case the Central Bank (Banxico) and the National Banking and Securities Commission (Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores) (CNBV), have not allowed this type of activity. The regulators have not allowed Fintech institutions to offer this type of product either, arguing, among other things, that such activity is similar to a gaming activity, although we do not foresee SEGOB authorising this type of activity as a gaming activity.

 

Despite the above, there are websites that carry out gambling activities using the virtual assets that the players have in their e-wallets but such activity is not supported by the Federal Government and it could constitute an electronic fraud.

 

One of the main concerns of the CNBV and Central Bank BANXICO is that transactions carried out using virtual assets may be money laundering, due to the fact that they are easily transferred to other countries and that there is a significant lack of regulation or technological supervision and infrastructure to properly supervise those activities.

 

Gambling debts

14. Are gambling debts enforceable in your jurisdiction?

 

Claims for payments of gambling debts must be submitted directly to the permit-holder or at the filing office of the Gaming Bureau, mentioning a brief summary of the complaint, as well as the receipts issued by the permit-holder/casino and the amount claimed.

 

However, the Federal Civil Code contains a chapter about gambling contracts, which provides that obligations resulting from bets crossed in prohibited or unauthorised games are not enforceable (Article 2764, Civil Code).

 

Despite this, obligations resulting from bets crossed or wagers made in authorised games are enforceable if the resulting loss does not represent more than 20% of the participant's net worth. Further, the right to enforce and collect gambling debts expires in 30 days (Article 2767, Federal Civil Code).

 

Tax

15. What are the applicable tax regimes for land-based and online gambling?

Land-based gambling

 

Gambling permit-holders, whether in a land-based facility or online, are subject to a 30% tax on earnings at the federal level, such as the special tax on production and services (Impuesto Especial Sobre Producción y Servicios) (IEPS). Under Article 2, section II, item B of the Special Tax on Production Services Law, the tax applies to:

  • Games where bets are crossed and draws are made which require a permit under the Gaming Law and the Gaming Regulations.
  • Games of skill which employ the use of equipment and the development of those games using visual electronic displays (such as numbers, symbols, figures or other displays of a similar nature conducted in the Mexican territory).
  • Games of chance.

 

Government duties

  • There is also a governmental 2% fee that must be paid to SEGOB, which is deducted from federal gambling tax (see above).
  • The Mexican taxation system requires all permit-holders to deliver, in real time, a report of the coin in/coin out information produced by each electronic device. The requirement is in line with the taxes paid every month.
  • This report is delivered to the tax authorities through an authorised vendor-better called PSA, which is a private company electronically connected with the tax agency.

 

The Mexican Supreme Court decided that both the individual state and the federal governments have authority to impose taxes on games where bets are crossed and draws are made (Amparo en revisión 471/2001; Distribuidora Liverpool, S.A. de C.V. 9 September 2003).

 

Even before that decision, local governments imposed taxes on gambling permit-holders. These taxes or contributions are generally imposed is through:

  • Local tax codes, fiscal statutes or municipal income and budget resolutions, which provide that gambling activities are subject to a certain contribution, which is determined as a percentage of the amounts wagered, less the prizes paid (for example, on the net win of the gambling permit-holder).
  • Special taxes on the players that obtain prizes when participating in gambling activities.

 

For example, Articles 145 to 155 of the 2014 Tax Code for the Federal District (Mexico City), provide for a 12% contribution to be applied on the net win of gambling permit-holders and a 6% contribution on the winnings or prize to be paid by the winner of a prize in a gambling activity.

 

Federal laws allow permit-holders to deduct local taxes up to a total of 20% from the federal gambling tax.

 

Winners are also taxed by both federal and state governments. The federal rate is 1% while state rates vary between 4 and 6% of the winnings. Permit-holders are required to withhold the taxes and pay them on behalf of the winners.

 

There are specific provisions in certain states, including additional burdens on the permit-holder´s customers. In connection with gambling on electronic terminals, some states or municipalities charge a specific monthly contribution for each electronic gaming device in operation at the corresponding gaming facility, such as the municipalities of Rosarito, Ensenada and Mexicali, in the state of Baja California.

 

Recently, the state of Yucatán passed an amendment to the local tax laws, creating a 10% tax to customers of gaming venues on all transactions taking place at a gaming facility. The gaming terminals suppliers or providers are also jointly liable for the payment of such taxes, in addition to a monthly contribution for each gaming device at each venue. The consequence of the new taxes is that gaming operators are likely to close their venues in that state.

 

All local taxes need to be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the location where the gambling product is offered and the income generated. Finally, some gambling permit-holders are currently pursuing legal actions to fight the imposition of certain local taxes as they may be inconsistent with the taxation principles of equity and proportionality.

 

Finally, gambling permit-holders are subject to all the taxes required from any other Mexican corporation, such as:

  • Income tax on the income arising from their gambling activities.
  • Flat rate corporate tax, which is credited against the income tax paid.
  • Value added tax (VAT), to be paid on services and products procured by the gambling permit-holder, which is also credited against the VAT collected by that permit-holder.

 

However, the amounts wagered by players are not subject to VAT, therefore the VAT collected by gambling permit-holders is very limited, which could represent a problem to permit-holders as they have very small amounts of collected VAT to be credited against the VAT they must pay to procure products and services.

 

Any person who decides to invest in this Industry should carefully review not only federal legislation but also the local taxation systems that may vary in terms of the basic applicable rate.

 

Online gambling

The regime for land-based gambling also applies to online gambling.

 

Advertising

16. To what extent is the advertising of gambling permitted in your jurisdiction? To the extent that advertising is permitted, how is it regulated?

 

Land-based gambling

 

Advertising authorised gambling activities is permitted in Mexico. Article 10 of the Gaming Regulations provides that the advertising and marketing of games where bets are crossed and draws are authorised under the Gaming Law and Gaming Regulations, as well as of the gambling facilities where those gambling activities are conducted, is permitted pursuant to the applicable provisions.

 

In any event, advertising and marketing of gambling activities can only be conducted when the corresponding gambling permit has been obtained. Advertising is subject to the following restrictions:

  • The authorised gambling activities must not be explicitly advertised.
  • The advertising must be clear and precise to prevent inducing by error, deceit or confusion the services offered.
  • Any advertising must indicate the permit number authorising the conduct of such gambling activities.
  • Any such advertising must indicate that minors may not participate in those activities.
  • Advertising must include messages that invite players to play responsibly (responsible gaming) and for the primary purpose of entertainment.

 

Online gambling

There are no specific requirements for online gambling activities, therefore the same rules for land-based gambling would apply.

 

Contributor profile

Cesar Morales Galán, Partner

Deloitte México (Deloitte Impuestos y Servicios Legales, S.C.uiza, S.C.)

T +52 (55) 5080 6602 F +52 (55) 5080 6001 cesmorales@deloittemx.com  www.deloitte.com/mx

Professional qualifications. Mexico, Attorney at law, United Kingdom, LLM

Areas of practice. M&A; corporate; gaming, commercial; real estate; financial transactions.

For further information on gaming in Mexico CONTACT us now for details.

 

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