Puerto Rico, known for its gambling and tourism, could become the first US territory to legalize sports betting. However, stakeholders halted plans to invest because of the proposed rules for online gambling which is scheduled to be imposed in August.
Sports betting is becoming popular in many countries. The industry started growing in the US when the Supreme Court lifted the ban for online gaming. Since then, sports betting was accepted in many states. Currently, there are more than 18 states with legal sports betting operations and at least four with regulated online casinos.
Online gambling operations, especially sports betting, are growing in numbers in Latin America. Governments saw the success of regulated sports betting in other parts of the region and the world. The return of professional sports is expected to contribute to the growth of the industry.
The success of online gambling in South America
Brazil is moving towards the regulation of its online gambling industry. The Brazilian government saw the contribution of the industry to the states with legal sports betting like Columbia. The revenue from online gambling in Columbia rose 83 per cent from 2019.
Puerto Rico’s online gambling industry is showing high growth potential. The new law imposed in August allowed a nationwide remote registration for mobile sports betting and retail betting across the country.
The bill also imposed a seven per cent tax rate on the gross revenue of the land-based casinos, while a 12 per cent tax applied to mobile and online operations. The gambling law set the legal wagering age to 18 and tasked the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission to regulate the industry.
Gambling in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Gaming Commission set the public consultation period for 30 days, and the regulating body assured that the questions and comments from everyone would be considered and discussed before the virtual meeting of the commission scheduled on August 19 at 9 a.m.
The government passed guidelines for sports betting, DFS, and entertainment in 2019. The new gambling law empowered the industry to control gambling activities and grant licenses for gambling operators. Jose Mayno-Azize, Executive Director of PRGC, emphasized the need to regulate the online gambling industry as land-based gambling facilities losses millions in revenue because of the pandemic.
Both the gambling and tourism industry of Puerto Rico suffered because of the lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The United States Congress has direct control of Puerto Rico since they are under the territorial clause of Article IV, Section 3 of the US constitution. Puerto Rico is under the control of the US federal government.
The Puerto Rican government urged the PRGC to authorize land-based and online sports betting in the development of the new legislation.
When approved, sportsbooks will operate in many business establishments such as casinos, hotels, inns, racetracks, etc.
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