Televisa demands the Mexican government to stop illegal betting houses

Televisa demanded the Mexican government to take legal measures against owners of illegal gambling and betting houses that proliferated in the whole country. A 20 % tax on games and draws was approved by the congress last September, as part of a fiscal reform proposed by President Felipe Calderón.

It is expected to have a harmful effect in the sector in which Televisa has just entered. “We hope that, after the approval of this tax searching for more revenue, the Mexican government goes after illegal businesses established in several parts of the country”, said CFO of Televisa, Salvi Folch.

Televisa, the main producer of programs in the Spanish world, has searched to enter in other business beyond TV in order to boost its income. In the last two years, the compan has opened nine top bingo halls, called Play City, and also performed lottery contests, but has reduced its expansion pace in recent months due to logistic problems.

Meanwhile, at least other two big gambling rooms, which do not have licenses and offer big prizes in cash, have opened this year in the capital city of the country as well as in neighbour Estado de Mexico.

“If the government does not control illegal business, it will be a great problem for us, because we really don’t know if they will pay taxes, but they have to do it. They do not follow the rules we have respected, such as the type of machines or the schedules to operate”, said Folch during an Internet transmission from New York.

Televisa obtained in 2005 the operating licenses to install bingo halls and other entertainment centres, in a controversial decision that generated complaints in other companies that participate in the activity, as well as legislators from the opposite party.

Unlike leaders Caliente and CIE, which were torced to build horse race-tracks and greyhound race-tracks before starting its betting business, Televisa obtained the licenses immediately.

Folch estimated that the sales in the gambling business of Televisa will be around USD 70 million on the current year, even a little portion of the total incomes of Televisa, of USD 3 billion.

“Televisa plans to issue instant lottery cards during the first half of 2008. It will also keep on searching purhase opportunities in the Mexican cable-TV market”, concluded Folch.