Following the state government’s decision to relegalise casinos in Tamaulipas, two new venues have already opened in Matamoros.
“We know that, at this time, there are two casinos which are authorised [in Matamoros], but although later on there will be more requests for licences, we hope that [the government] will issue them in an orderly way and the market will not become oversaturated,” stated Julio Almanza Armas, president of the Tamaulipas branch of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fecanaco). As of January, the state government has issued eight casino licences in total.
In November, the government reversed a 2017 decision to ban casinos and shut down strip clubs in the state. The new initiative was put forward by the independent local deputy, Humberto Rangel Vallejo and later passed by 30 votes in favour to four against.
Following the vote, Economic Development secretary, Carlos García González, estimated that up to 30 casinos could begin operations in the state in 2019, in border towns like Reynosa, Matamoros, and Nuevo Laredo.
“From what I’ve seen in other states the number could be between 20 and 30 establishments,” he explained. “It’s going to bring a positive economic benefit.”
“I think this is going to help the border region, which could benefit from additional tourism. There are many people from Texas that would be willing to cross [into Mexico] to come and have a good time.”
Omar Elizondo García, a Reynosa- based hotelier, argued that the authorities should prioritise issuing licences to tourist facing operators as opposed to slot parlours catering to the domestic market.
“We want casinos but they should generate foreign tourism, that’s the aim. But for this it’s necessary to have a good regulatory framework, …to ensure that applicants for licences meet that objective and generate tourism and revenue for the benefit of [the state’s] citizens,” he clarified.