President Vicente Fox says he may be willing to make a bet on legalizing casino gambling in Mexico.
The issue has long pitted those eager for casino income against those who fear the operations could be used to launder drug money.
Fox said Tuesday he supported legalized gambling as long it was subject to appropriate controls.
“I am in favor of casinos, in a controlled way, above all if they are in areas frequented by foreign tourists,” Fox said at a tourism convention in the Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco. “That is where they should be.”
The tourism industry has lobbied for years for legalized gambling with little success, claiming it was needed to make Mexico competitive with other vacation spots which offering legal betting.
At present, almost all forms of gambling except lotteries, raffles and betting on horses at few racing tracks are illegal in Mexico. Betting on cockfights is common, though illegal.