As many as 30 casinos are expected to open in Tamaulipas next year after legislation was approved last month making them legal once again.
The state Congress reversed a decision made a year and a half ago to ban casinos on the grounds that they were linked to organized crime and contributed to insecurity.
Economic Development Secretary Carlos García González said the government must now publish a decree that officially repeals the casino prohibition and then apply for relevant licenses from federal authorities.
“At the beginning of next year . . . there could be 20 or 30 establishments,” he said.
Most are expected to open in cities located close to the Mexico-United States border.
The secretary, a member of the National Action Party (PAN) government led by Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, said the casinos will provide a source of significant tax revenue for the state, money that is currently being lost to other locations.
“I see people leaving Reynosa and Matamoros in buses to go to casinos in Nuevo León . . . . There is an economic spillover from Tamaulipas residents in other states,” García said.
He added that the return of casinos will attract foreign visitors, who will also spend money at other local businesses.
“I believe that this will help the border [area], there could be a little bit more tourism, there are a lot of people in the Rio Grande Valley and in Texas [generally] who would be open to crossing the border to have a good time,” García said.
“A year and a half ago, there was a reform by the state to prevent not only casinos but also strip clubs. The view is that the [security] situation is [now] more stable . . .” he added.
Abraham Rodríguez Padrón, head of a federation of chambers of commerce in Tamaulipas, said that while the business sector supported the re-legalization of casinos there needed to be more clarity about how the state government will use the tax revenue to benefit local residents.
He also questioned the speed with which the government is seeking to reopen casinos, charging that business chambers’ views on the security and operations of the gambling establishments are not being taken into account.