Puerto Rico has been trying to find ways to help improve its autonomy and economic status. Different measures have been introduced over the years that were designed to help it cut the strings from the U.S., but it hasn’t fully realized its goals. Recently, after seeing what was possible with sports gambling, it began to consider a move to legalize the activity and that plan has now come to fruition. Puerto Rico has approved legislation to allow both in-person and online sports gambling.
According to an article prepared by Yogonet, Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly approved House Resolution 2038 (HR 2038) after successfully making it through the Senate in June. The next step is to receive Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s signature, and he has already indicated that he supports the measure. He previously stated, “This industry has the potential to convert Puerto Rico into a jurisdiction in the vanguard of allowing the establishment of this new model, which will have a positive effect on our economy. We have worked on aggressive legislation that aspires at being able to market the island at the international and national levels as an attractive destination for the millions of people who bet on sports events.”
HR 2038 allows wagers on sporting events, esports and fantasy sports. It authorizes both land-based and online gambling, but amateur sports wagers are off the books for now. It will establish a new gaming commission to develop the framework for the activity and which will oversee gambling associations, such as the Horse Racing Industry Administration and the Gaming Division of the Tourism Office of the Department of Economic Develop, that already operate in Puerto Rico.
The commission will be headed by someone appointed by Governor Rosselló and approved by the Senate. The commissioner will hold the position and will oversee a board comprised of seven individuals, two of which will come from the private sector.
The cost of securing a sports gambling license has not yet been provided—this is one of the tasks of the new gaming commission. However, the minimum license fee, as established by HR 2038, will be $50,000 for large-scale operators and at least $2,500 for individual points-of-sale. The activity will be taxed at 7% on income from bets for land-based operations and 12% for online wagers.
The commission will have virtual autonomous control over the licensing process, but there are some limitations. Licenses cannot be issued to entire sectors, such as gas stations or grocery stores, and no POS can receive a license if it is within 100 meters (328 feet) of a religious center, a public or private rehabilitation center or a school.