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Sports betting now legal in Puerto Rico

29 July 2019

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares signed the Law of the Betting Commission of the Government of Puerto Rico, which authorizes for the first time on the Island, betting on sporting events, electronic games and fantasy contests. This includes online bets that originate in Puerto Rico.

“With the signing of this law, we prepare to witness the potential it provides to make Puerto Rico a state of the art jurisdiction while benefiting the local economy. With this legislation, the Island can be marketed nationally and internationally as an attractive destination for betting on sporting events, ”said the president.

Rosselló Nevares said that, “we bet on this emerging industry by allowing it to bet on its events. This joins the Governor's Advisory Council on Video Game Matters and incentives for this industry in the newly signed Incentive Code. ”

It is estimated that this industry could generate over $3 billion annually by 2023 in the United States.

For his part, the representative and author of the measure, Néstor Alonso Vega, thanked the governor for signing the Chamber Project and indicated that “this server is committed to giving the island the tools to continue promoting economic development and tourism. The signing of this measure positions us in the Caribbean as the first jurisdiction with sports betting.”

In addition to sports betting, the project authorizes bets in fantasy league and in the emerging segment of electronic games or eSports. This segment, little regulated in the other jurisdictions of the United States, allows bets on competitive events of electronic games or video games, such as Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., Fortnite, Rainbow Six and Gears of War.

It is estimated that the global audience of eSports is over 400 million people and that its global economic impact is over $3 billion by 2023.

On the administrative side, the project creates a new Betting Commission, in accordance with the model of other states that have adopted this type of legislation. The commission, composed of seven members of the public and private sector, will be the government entity responsible for regulating sports betting, equestrian sports, eSports and gambling.

The commission absorbs the current Administration of the Equestrian Sports Industry and the Gaming Division, part of the Tourism Company. It was reported that the employees of these entities will go to the new Commission and no public employee will be dismissed as part of the reorganization.
Moreover, the legislation provides to ensure that children under 18 do not participate in these games. Similarly, problems of addiction to the game that may arise will be addressed; and it will be adequately controlled to avoid money laundering and tax evasion.

Bets may be placed at any place authorized by the Commission, such as casinos, racetracks, hotels, hostels, among others.

The governor explained that this new legislation achieves revenue for the treasury, coming from the operating licenses and taxes that will be charged in the plays and prizes. A rate of 7% has been proposed in the case of physical bets and 12% in bets placed on the Internet.

These charges and taxes seek to be extremely competitive compared to other jurisdictions, with a view to making the Island attractive and competitive to attract this industry, since they would be revenues from an industry that does not currently exist.

Independent entities expert in the field, such as The Innovation Group and Spectrum Gaming Group, concluded that the introduction of this segment in Puerto Rico will not cannibalize the income of casinos in Puerto Rico, because the casinos capture a different demographic.

Similarly, sports betting licenses at authorized equestrian agencies will have a 50% discount for the first ten years.

The proceeds that the Government obtains from this industry will be distributed to help cover the retirement of pensioners and programs aimed at promoting sport in our youth; to offer services against gambling addiction; to offer better equipment to the police; to promote educational initiatives; and for administrative and implementation expenses of the new Commission.

Likewise, as a measure to complement the income of those who participated in the sport of roosters, licenses will be authorized to those existing cookies to accept bets at sporting events. Such licenses will be issued free of charge for the first ten years and the benefit will be applicable to any cookie that would operate legally prior to the approval of the United States Federal Agricultural Law, which made cockfighting illegal.

“This is another demonstration of our administration's support for emerging industries. We have promoted industries such as medical cannabis, cryptocurrency, collaborative economics and industrial hemp. All these markets have the potential to attract hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy, in addition to generating jobs,” concluded the governor.

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Sports betting now legal in Puerto Rico is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.