Progreso, Yucatán — The artisan market on Calle 80 is being transformed into a small gambling casino aimed at cruise ship passengers.
The building, which is owned by the FUTV taxi drivers’ union, is just off the malecón and near the pier, surrounded by small restaurants and tourist shops.
It already has 80 of 120 machines on site, according to local media. The equipment, owned by a private Sinaloa company, arrived Friday afternoon on board a trailer and installation began on Saturday.
The yet-unnamed casino is expected to open its doors to the public by March 15, in time to welcome tourists arriving on the Carnival Triumph. According to one report, artisans from the old market will be allowed to set up stalls outside on cruise-ship days.
Its exterior walls have gone from white to yellow, and a sign offering a “bienvenido/welcome” has been painted over.
Staff working at the casino facility said that they are already hiring workers for between 2,400 and 3,000 pesos biweekly, according to Punto Medio.
The project has not been well received by the local population, the newspaper reported.
Word of a casino also appears to contradict an announcement from a federal official who said no more casinos are being authorized in Yucatán state.
Casinos in Mexico require authorization from the Ministry of the Interior, which has stopped issuing permits for now, said Rubén Valdez Ceh, who represents the office. But investors told Punto Medio that they expect to have an operating permit very soon.
Valdez Ceh also shot down rumors of a new casino in Tizimín in a story published in Milenio Novedades.
Yucatán’s five casinos are spread out across Mérida: Golden Island, Casino City, La Cima, Crown City and Juega y Juega all appear much larger than the casino being built in Progreso. The casinos emphasize electronic gaming machines such as slots.
In October, the city’s mayor encouraged investors who had expressed interest in bringing gaming to the cash-strapped port city.
Sources: Diario de Yucatán, Sipse