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US Territory Puerto Rico Legalizes Sports Betting

August 3, 2019

If there is any doubt about the interest Americans have in sports betting, that doubt has been removed. It has been removed by the addition of Puerto Rico to the list of states or jurisdictions that have passed the required legislation to legalize sports betting for its residents.

People sometimes forget that Puerto Rico falls under the governance of the United States federal government. As such, they are bound by the same laws as other US states and Citizens. In May of 2018, the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban against sports betting. The authority to legislate said activities was remanded to the states and their state legislatures. That would include Puerto Rico and Guam.

On his way out of office due to corruption allegations, Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed the bill that legalizes sports betting services, fantasy sports and eSports betting for Puerto Rican residents.

As part of the new law, the government set up the seven member Betting Commission, which will have responsibility for overseeing all land-based and online sports betting activities. The commission will also take over the responsibility for overseeing the territory's robust horse racing industry. Horse racing had been operating under the guidelines set forth by the Horse Racing Industry Administration and the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.’s Gaming Division. Proudly, The Betting Commission proclaimed that no employees currently working with the Horse Racing Industry Administration will lose their jobs as the Commission has agreed to offer positions to everyone.

Much of the motivation for moving forward with the legalization of sports betting was to give the territory's tourism community a boost. In line with that objective, the new law calls for only a 7% tax on sports betting revenues. Compared to the other 15 states that have also passed sports betting legislation, the 7% represents the lowest mark to date. This should give licensed bookmakers enough flexibility to offer comps and bonuses to draw sports bettors into the local casinos.

In a statement released to the press, Gov. Rosselló stated: “With this law, we are getting ready to see how sports betting can potentially help Puerto Rico become an innovative jurisdiction and help the local economy. The island will be able to show off as a national treasure and international spot for sports betting."

He further added: “This victory is part of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Video Games Affairs,”

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