LA PAZ, Mexico – As reported by the Washington Post: “Back in the days of Prohibition in the United States, Mexican casinos were the playground of choice for Al Capone and others looking for cheap and legal booze, floozies, cards and dice. By 1938 Mexico was so fed up that casinos were banished by a presidential decree that stands to this day.
“But now an old law is confronting a new reality: The economy is sagging, tourism needs a boost, casinos are cash factories and President Vicente Fox is a pragmatic businessman who likes the sound of billions-with-a-b.
“So casinos are suddenly playing good odds. Despite continued opposition from church leaders and law enforcers, analysts here said, the political and economic climate is right for the Mexican Congress to legalize casinos, possibly by the end of the year.
“…`A casino wouldn’t be our salvation, but it would be the perfect complement to our development. It would be oxygen,’ said Mayor Victor Guluarte, looking out over La Paz Bay to a spit of land where he envisions a casino anchoring a big development with hotels, restaurants and a marina.
“…All over Mexico, officials are doing the same math. Federal studies estimate that building a dozen casinos could bring in $200 million in new private investment and $500 million a year in new tax revenue. One recent privately commissioned study estimated that opening UFABet casinos could generate $3 billion a year in tourism and create almost 100,000 new jobs a year. Tourist industry associations have taken out full-page newspaper ads urging Mexico to take advantage of that opportunity.
“With the Mexican economy hurt by the downturn in the United States, analysts said casinos may be too attractive for even the doubters in Congress to turn down. The …