While it has been several years since gambling was legalized in Mexico, initiatives to assist those players who wager beyond their means are only starting to take off.
One of the areas pioneering these efforts is the municipality of Monterrey, which this week launched a campaign titled “Gambling is not a Game”. Although it is conducted in cooperation with a well known nonprofit organization called the Youth Integration Centers, the campaign targets a wider demographic.
Mexican gambling laws permit a wide range of real-money activities, but the law alone can not solve everything, especially considering the rural poverty and tragic drug-related violence that has been plaguing the country. These deplorable financial and social conditions, combined with the newly found freedoms to gamble have generated a large number of problem gamblers.
According to Mayor Margarita Arellanes “the important thing is to address the underlying issue, which is not only a legal issue of complying with all the regulations, but we must recognize that we have a social problem and we have a health problem which we face.”
“Preventive as well as corrective programs are needed, in this situation pathological gambling is not a game, and as such all Monterrey have the obligation and the social and moral duty to support those who may be suffering from an addiction of this type,” added the mayor.
While there are some online gaming options, especially internet betting in Mexico, which are open to local players, most problem gamblers develop the addiction while betting through illegal bookies offline or playing the slots.
As there are no Mexican internet casinos available for local players and a large segment of the population is without reliable internet access, this area of gambling contributes less to the overall problem, than in many other countries.
The new initiative will see leaflets being distributed in the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, as well as the establishment of a daytime helpline offering free and confidential guidance.
It is worth noting that gambling addiction is not the only threat facing players in Mexico. In 2011 Monterrey suffered one of the deadliest casino attacks in history, whereby 50 casino visitors were killed in an attack by one of the country’s major drug gangs.