Sports betting’s growth in the United States is now expanding beyond the contiguous 48 states. The latest spot where legal sports betting is close to becoming a reality is Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. It’s not final yet but it looks like a done deal that sports betting – both online and land-based – will be operational on the Caribbean island in the near future.
On June 30, the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico gave the green light to approve all types of sports betting products. That includes regular betting on sporting events, eSports and fantasy sports.
The bill, HR 2038, will allow land-based sports betting at different venues as well as online sports betting. From what we know, the only thing that’s prohibited in the bill is betting on amateur sports that take place on the island itself.
With the House and the Senate approving the bill, it now heads for a signature from Governor Ricardo Rosello. Of course, he could veto it, but it seems likely that he will sign the sports betting bill into law. He has publicly backed the plan.
In terms of what this means for the government, they’ll be taxing all land-based profits at 7% and 12% online. The island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, has been looking for ways to make more money necessary for things like rebuilding the island, restocking the emergency funds and much more.
According to one estimate, if sports betting is legalized next year, it could mean a $29 million boost for the government in 2020 and $51 million for 2021.
A new Gaming Commission to oversee licenses, regulation and adherence to laws, will be formed in Puerto Rico. The person in charge of directing the Gaming Commission has yet to be hired, but it will be a person with at least five years in the business or related gaming industries.
There are already some groups who oversee different types of gaming in Puerto Rico such as horse racing but they are now going to be folded into (or under the umbrella) of the Gaming Commission.
It’s not known what operators can expect in terms of costs or what types of land-based venues will be able to offer sports betting.
We’ve seen a consistent battle for territory and customers between FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill and Bet365 as each state opens up the laws and welcomes sports betting, so will we see the same in Puerto Rico?
The likely answer is yes and it’s only a matter of time before they start applying for licenses. We’ve already seen FanDuel try to get a foot into the market as they ran a Daily Fantasy contest in association with HBO during a Miguel Cotto-Sadam Ali fight in December 2017.
The Play For Puerto Rico Series surrounding Cotto’s farewell fight saw FanDuel donate all entry fees to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. At the same time, it’s likely that the company has been keeping an eye on the situation in Puerto Rico and will now move in to apply for a license.