Amid what seems like ever-present turmoil in Puerto Rico, outgoing governor Ricardo Rossello signed a bill into law on July 29 to legalize sports betting in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The Senate-approved bill, which was sent to the governor’s desk late last month, makes online and land-based sports betting legal within the U.S. island territory.
The newly signed bill, the Betting Committee Act of the Government of Puerto Rico, is expected to generate much-needed revenue for the ailing island, which was rocked by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and perhaps equally damaged by the mismanagement of financial aid and other resources which the territory received in aftermath of the storm, according to the New York Times.
According to the official press release (in Spanish), Puerto Rico expects to join what local officials expect to become a $3 billion sports gambling industry in the U.S. by 2023. Puerto Rico’s new sports betting law legalizes bets on professional sports while also providing space for both fantasy sports and eSports bets.
Additionally, the law prohibits minors from taking part and allows for both online and off-track sports betting in addition to the traditional in-person wagers at racetrack casinos.
That’s important for Puerto Rico, especially if it hopes to garner a huge financial windfall for the island. By comparison, states in the U.S. that have allowed online sports betting, such as New Jersey, have reaped the biggest reward when it comes to generating sports betting revenue.
Those who haven’t allowed online sports betting, or have suffered other setbacks in regards to launching mobile sportsbooks, have missed the mark in terms of netting huge revenue projections.
Rossello probably won’t be remembered for signing Puerto Rico’s new sports betting bill into law, but he indicated afterward that he hopes the move helps turn Puerto Rico into a better place.
Rossello is set to resign from his post after the widely reported leak of chat-app messages in which he and other government aides traded profanity-laced, homophobic and misogynistic messages about fellow politicians and others.
“By signing this law, we are getting ready to witness the potential it provides to transform Puerto Rico into a vanguard jurisdiction, while benefitting the local economy. With this legislation, the island will be able to market itself nationally and internationally as an attractive destination for sports betting events,” Rossello said via press release.
Rossello added, “we are betting on this emerging industry by allowing betting on its events. This joins the Governor’s Advisory Council on Video Game Affairs (Electronic Game Leagues & Sports Betting) and the incentives for this industry included in the newly signed Incentives Code.”
Additionally, the law created the Betting Commission in Puerto Rico, which will consist of seven members from both the public and private sectors. This entity will be restructured within the current government and be responsible for regulating sports betting, equestrian sports, eSports and other gambling.
The Betting Commission will absorb the current duties and tasks of the Administration of the Equestrian Sports Industry and the Gaming Division, with the employees of that entity moving into similar roles within the new organizational structure.