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Mexico is the second largest country in Central and South America, second only to Brazil, and is also the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Thanks in part to its free trade agreement with its neighbor the United States, Mexico has really become a lot more industrialized and now has one of the largest economies in the world.
This growth is expected to continue in the coming years and some predict Mexico will move up all the way to having the world’s fifth largest economy by 2050. With their over 120 million people and a per capita GDP that is in the top 12 in the world, and the fact that they get over 20 million tourists a year on top of that, and also adding in an internet penetration level that’s almost 50 percent, this is certainly a place where gambling and poker can really flourish. (1)
Many of the laws that still apply are based upon ones enacted in 1947, when gambling wasn’t permitted at all, although over the years these laws haven’t been enforced all that strictly and gambling still persisted in several forms during this time. (2)
In 2004 though, gambling laws were updated at least somewhat, and this did allow for the regulation of some forms of gambling, even casinos, although the approach so far in terms of licensing has been a conservative one.
Currently, there are only 3 casinos in Mexico (2 of them are racetracks), one of which offers just horse race betting and sports betting, while the other also having 200 slot machines. So there’s only one dedicated casino here so far, the Room 802 Casino in Juarez, on the border with the United States, set up to attract people from over the border essentially. (3)
On top of that though, there are many other smaller gambling establishments in Mexico, somewhere between 300 and 400 depending on who you ask, and gambling here isn’t as transparent as it is in most other countries, and there’s at least some uncertainty as to how many licensed gambling establishments there actually are here.
Horse and dog racing is pretty popular here, as is bingo and raffles, and various other games like pool and dominos, and games involving the use of dice and cards. Mexicans also like to bet on sports as well, and the game of Jai Alai is pretty popular here in particular, as are bull fights and cock fighting, both of which are legal here.
Even so, the gambling market still remains somewhat underserved, due mostly to the laws requiring updating, but that’s exactly what the government is planning. New laws have been proposed to expand the gambling market here, including building up to 25 new casinos, and this was supposed to get passed in 2014, but it has been delayed and the expectation now is that this will get done sometime in 2015, although further delays are possible. (4)
Mexico does also have regulated online gambling, but this is restricted to tourists and foreigners only, and Mexican residents are not allowed to play on them, which ironically just forces them to play at offshore unregulated gambling sites, and there are no restrictions barring them from doing so at the present time.
Playing Poker in Mexico
Mexico has a large amount of expats who have come over from the United States after Black Friday, in order to get better access to offshore poker sites. With the planned new law though, this may end up forcing them to leave, although the extent of this exodus remains to be seen, but this could end up seeing a lot of major online poker sites pull out of Mexico has they have the U.S. and many other countries.
So people often think regulation is a good thing for poker, and it may be to a certain extent with other forms of online gambling, but poker isn’t at like an online casino though where someone can just put up servers in your country and run some software and that will take care of you, because you’re just playing against the house.
Poker has a much different dynamic though and the amount of users matters a great deal, and players need and desire a lot of other players to play against, and when you take a country like Mexico, which is plenty big, and compare it to sites offering play to players from most of the countries in the world, well bigger is better here for sure.
It’s hard to say exactly how this new online regulation is going to play out but the plan right now is to ring fence the country and block non-regulated sites, and it’s hard to even say whether poker is even popular enough here to have a domestic poker site have enough broad appeal to allow it to compete, and there is always competition, even when you try to block it, as that’s only effective to a limited degree.
As far as live poker goes, there is only a very limited amount of it, and only one casino offers it, the previously mentioned Room 802 Casino, and they only have 2 poker tables. Once they start building a lot more casinos here, as is planned, this is sure to expand the availability of online poker, but this will be aimed mostly at tourists.
There are a few other places you can play live poker besides this casino, and some of these smaller gambling operations do offer a little poker, and this list may grow as the licensing of gambling becomes expanded soon. (5)
The popularity of poker in Mexico has really grown over the last few years though, thanks to things like more and more people having access to the internet, particularly with their smartphones, and more and more people trying out the game. The Latin American Poker Tour has had a stop here since 2008 and that’s also helped spread the word.
Mexico is at a crossroads right now in terms of where online poker and therefore poker in general may be headed, and it’s hard to say how things might pan out, perhaps they can put together a big enough domestic online poker market to make that work, or maybe they will even look to bring in some foreign based sites instead of just limiting this to Mexican owned sites, which is the main worry here.
Poker has achieved a lot of momentum lately in Mexico though, and regardless, it will likely still continue to grow.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players From Mexico
At least at the present time, top online poker sites have no problems taking players from Mexico, so you can just pick from among the best online poker sites there are. So here’s our list of the very best for you, and all are ready to welcome you with some nice bonus cash for just trying them out.
888 Poker has risen to the top of the heap after many years of being a good poker site, it’s widely recognized as a great poker site now, and they have worked very hard to make it so, and have been very successful in pulling this off.
Party Poker is also very popular with lots of traffic and game selection, and this has also been a top choice of online poker players pretty much since online poker began. Like 888 Poker, they have also taken things to the next level in the past few years.
Titan Poker and Bet 365 are also two very popular sites that are both on the iPoker network, and offer their players some great online poker along with some very nice rewards, which all of our top picks do by the way.
Black Chip Poker is a lesser known online poker site but they make up for this with effort, and they have risen up the ranks a lot lately as more and more people try them out and really like what they see.