The turmoil presently engulfing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s government won’t stop the newly enacted sports betting law from moving toward becoming a full-scale reality on the island by the end of the year.
Puerto Rico has had three different governors in just a five-day span this month. But Sen. Carmelo Rios Santiago said there should be no barrier to Puerto Rico implementing a legal sports betting program by the end of the year, according to a report by BloombergTax.com.
Santiago told BloombergTax.com that the difficult situation that led to the resignation of embattled Gov. Ricardo Rossello wouldn’t stop Puerto Rico from joining the U.S. states who have started operational sports betting programs in the year-plus since a U.S. Supreme Court decision removed a federal ban in May 2018.
Just days after Rossello resigned came the short reign of his successor, Pedro Pierluisi, who was removed from office after just five days when Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that his appointment was unconstitutional. Wanda Vasquez Garced was sworn in as Governor on Aug. 7.
“I guarantee you it’s going to move forward,” Santiago said. “I’ve been in talks with Gov. Garced, and the new law will be one of many things we will continue to work on when we start session on Aug. 19.”
Gov. Rossello, days before being ousted amid a texting scandal, signed the bill into law on July 29 to legalize sports betting in Puerto Rico. The law also provides space for fantasy sports and eSports.
The new law sets a 7% tax on gross revenue for in-person bets and 12% for online bets. Additionally, the law created the Betting Commission in Puerto Rico, which will provide governmental oversight for Puerto Rico’s newly legal sports betting market.
There are various estimates as to how much revenue Puerto Rico can expect to generate with legal sports betting.
According to the official press release (in Spanish), Puerto Rico expects a good share of what local officials anticipate will become a $3 billion sports betting industry overall in the U.S. by 2023. According to two reports cited by BloombergTax.com, the estimated share for Puerto Rico would be somewhere between $32 million to $62 million per year.
As with many other recent entrants into the U.S. sports betting landscape, projected revenue numbers can sometimes be a little higher than what reality turns out to be. Moreover, it’s reasonable to suggest that once sports betting becomes legal in a new location, it takes more than a year or so for the market to fully mature.
The most important thing about Puerto Rico’s sports betting bill, at least judging by what has happened in U.S. states which have activated legal sports betting, is that the newly enacted law includes legal online sports betting.
States that have legalized mobile and online sports betting, such as market leader New Jersey, have been more consistently achieving lofty revenue projections than those that have focused solely on legalizing in-person bets.
Puerto Rico has legalized both, which is similar to New Jersey, the state that has been challenging Nevada as the sports betting capital of America after less than a year in the sports betting market.