Sports Betting Coming to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is in desperate need of monetary relief, particularly after being affected by Hurricane Maria a few years ago. One way in which the area is looking to bring in revenues is with sports betting. Because they are associated with the United States, lawmakers decided to get the ball rolling and work on sports betting legislation. The House and Senate have approved a measure, HR 2038, with only the signature of the governor standing in the way of the industry’s approval.
The legislation made its way through the Senate in June and was just recently approved in the House. Now, the bill has moved on to the desk of Governor Ricardo Rosselló for consideration. In the past, the governor has stated that he is supportive of sports betting. The governor feels that the legislation will have a positive effect on Puerto Rico and will boost the economy.
The legislation being considered is one that would give the island international and national appeal as a destination to visit in general as well as one with sports betting operations. With HR 2038, players would be able to wager on not only sporting events in major professional leagues but also fantasy sports and eSports. Players would have access to online and land-based wagering.
Developing the Industry
According to the legislation, a new Gaming Commission would be created. The Commission would be an overall overseer of the gambling industries in Puerto Rico. Existing groups, such as the Horse Racing Industry Administration would be overseen by the group along with the sports betting industry.
Governor Ricardo Rosselló would be in charge of appointing the commissioner of the new group, someone that must be approved by the Senate. The commissioner would be in charge of the board which consist of seven people. Two of the members of the board will be from the private sector.
Just how much a license for sports betting will cost in Puerto Rico is anyone’s guess. The amount has yet to be announced. The Commission will be in charge of determining this amount. HR 2038 des set the minimum license fee at $50,000 for operators of large scale sports betting while individual points of sale will cost $2,500.
Operators in charge of land-based gaming will be taxed at a rate of 7%. For online sports betting, the tax is a bit higher at 12%. The commission will be in charge of determining who is licensed. There are stipulations to licensing set in the legislation. Licensees cannot be from an entire sector such as grocery stores or gas stations.
Licensing is also restricted from being within 328 feet of a school, religious facility or a rehabilitation center, be it private or public in nature.
For now, residents of Puerto Rico will have to wait and see if the governor will sign the measure. Having already given his support, it seems that Governor Ricardo Rosselló will be signing the bill and Puerto Rico will become the next to offer sports betting services.