On April 15th, 2011 the United States Department of Justice officially shuttered the online poker industry in America, denying domestic access to Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker.
In response, hundreds of professional poker players who plied their trade online were forced to contemplate a concept that had been unthinkable during the heyday of America’s poker boom: relocate abroad.
While some players headed northward to pursue their careers in Canada, and others crossed the Atlantic to find a European sanctuary, thriving communities of poker ex-pats also sprung up in seaside villages and big cities throughout Mexico.
Their reasoning was clear: along with great weather throughout the year and an affordable cost of living, Mexico offered online poker players – and online gamblers of all variety – legal access to their favorite platforms.
The same holds true today, as online gambling can be enjoyed legally throughout Mexico.
The nation’s primary gambling legislation, known as the Federal Gambling and Raffles Law, was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on December 31st, 1947. The law officially took effect on January 5th, 1948.
For nearly 57 years that law existed as the sole oversight of Mexico’s gambling industry. The law was written in a rather broad and generalized fashion and was designed to protect Mexican citizens while marketing casino gambling primarily to tourists.
The advent of the digital age called for updated statutory language, and on September 17th, 2004, the Regulations for the Federal Gambling and Raffles Law was enacted by Mexico’s government.
According to Article 76 of the Regulations, remote betting centers relying on telephone communication and authorized by the Mexican Secretariat of the Interior (SEGOB) are permitted, while Article 85 specifically legalizes remote wagering via the internet. In all cases, remote betting of any type must be conducted by companies which have been granted licenses by the SEGOB.
When waves of disgruntled online poker players began showing up in Mexican destinations like Playa Del Carmen, Guadalajara, Cancun and Monterrey, and of course, the metropolis of Mexico City, they were pleased to discover that industry leading sites like PokerStars, 888 Casino, and Bet365 had long been operational and accessible there.
During the last few years, a grassroots campaign to rewrite Mexico’s online gambling regulations has been spearheaded by Miguel Angel Ochoa Sanchez, who serves as president of the Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA). According to Sanchez, the current regulations could not have anticipated the scope and scale of online gambling more than a decade after they were enacted, and new laws are needed to modernize the industry.
Beginning in 2014, the efforts of Sanchez and his supporters led to a series of stops and starts, as the Mexican Lower House passed an updated gaming bill. That legislation was expected to be fast-tracked through to the full Mexican Senate for immediate passage, but since that time it has been delayed on several different occasions.
As of today, the Senate has yet to authorize the conditions of a new gaming law, which as written would institute tighter regulations and higher levels of taxation on licensed offshore operators like Poker Stars, while severely penalizing unlicensed operators.
This means online gambling remains fully legal throughout Mexico, and the professional poker community continues to make annual pilgrimages to the country while grinding major series like the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP).
As it does almost everywhere else on the planet, PokerStars leads the way in terms of Mexican customer base, but all variety of online gambling platforms can be accessed here. With so many options to choose from, including both licensed and unlicensed operators, we’ve taken the time to review Mexico’s most popular online gambling sites to help players make the most informed decisions possible.
Comparing online gambling sites isn’t an easy task, as each platform specializes in serving a specific segment of the marketplace.
As mentioned above, PokerStars is clearly the place for poker players. Meanwhile, fans of casino table games roulette, card games like blackjack and baccarat, or slot machine style specialty games, will find a bevy of options at 888 Casino. When placing a few bets on the ponies or backing your favorite team with a sportsbook wager, the features found at Bet365 are likely to be more appealing.
Every site offers its own set of promotions – including sign-up bonuses, free plays, and loyalty rewards – so deciding where to invest your gambling dollar can be a difficult task indeed.
Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you, exploring each of the online gambling sites currently serving players in Mexico to identify pros and cons, benefits based on game choice, customer satisfaction levels, and financial security.