Puerto Rico Looking to Launch Sports Betting

Puerto Rico is taking steps that would allow them to launch sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and esports in the coming months. This legislation has been in the works since 2018, but it appears that Puerto Rico is committed to making it happen this time around.

The Puerto Rico Gaming Commission (PRGC) has opened up a public opinion period that will last 30 days. Residents of Puerto Rico will be able to view the potential sports betting regulations and make official comments on the topic.

The next PGRC meeting is scheduled for August 19, and at that caucus, all public comments and questions will be taken into consideration. The meeting will be held virtually, and it’s unclear just how seriously they will take the public concerns and comments.

Sports Betting, DFS, and esports were all legalized last year, but nothing has been done since that time. A change in Governors played a significant role in this, but the Puerto Rican Government was unable to create any solid rules or regulations. 

The PRGC already has the authority to come up with regulations to launch the sports betting industry, but that group has been in no hurry to get things done. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed things, and most experts expect Puerto Rico to launch wagering before the end of 2020

Casinos and resorts are looking at the PRGC to bail them out financially, and the launch of sports betting is one of the easiest ways to accomplish that. There is still plenty of work to be done, but it appears that things are trending in the right direction

Puerto Rico Follows US Laws

Puerto Rico follows laws and guidelines that are passed by the United States, per the US Constitution. When the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, it paved the way for sports betting in Puerto Rico. 

The Puerto Rican Government initially ruled that both land-based and retail sports betting would be launched. Six percent of all revenue from brick and mortar sports betting would be paid to the government, and 12 percent of all online sports betting would be shared. 

The PRGC has not year announced a set number of sports betting licenses available, but the group will take a look at all eligible businesses. 

Tourism Has Taken a Huge Hit

One of the biggest reasons that the Puerto Rican Government is looking for new revenue sources is because the tourism economy has taken a huge hit. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept people from traveling to a popular destination, and it has hurt the country’s overall economy.

Puerto Rico is concerned that the drop in tourism could last for months or even years, and the country will not be able to withstand a steady decline. Puerto Rico is a popular stop for cruise ships leaving the United States, but most cruises have been shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Port of San Juan has been welcoming close to 1.4 million tourists each year, but that number will likely be less than 1 million in 2020. More than 40 different cruise ships that had confirmed COVID-19 cases before the pandemic shut down the entire industry. 

There are close to 25 casinos located throughout Puerto Rico, and all of them are found at tourist resorts. The casinos have also seen a massive hit during the pandemic, and offering sports betting could help ease the burden.

On July 15, Puerto Rico launched a massive ad campaign to get the tourism industry going again. That campaign was short-lived after a surge in COVID-19 cases forced the government to shut things down again


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.