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Puerto Rico Sports Betting: Consultation Period Officially Open

As sports betting in Puerto Rico edges closer to going live, residents in the unincorporated US territory are being invited to share their thoughts and concerns. 

The island officially legalized sports wagering last year, in addition to eSports betting and daily fantasy sports. 

Current regulatory proposals were put together in collaboration with Gaming Laboratories International (GLI). 

The consultation period opened on August 10th will last for 30 days, effective as of that date.

Getting closer 

The Puerto Rico Gaming Commission (PRGC) is due to have a virtual meeting on August 19th. Feedback and recommendations submitted prior to that may be discussed in Wednesday’s online gathering. 

While Puerto Rico is not officially a US state, the fact that it happens to be a US territory means that federal law is applicable to the island. Therefore, they – like the 50 American states – have been able to discuss regulating sports betting since PASPA was repealed in 2018. 

Prior to his resignation in August 2019, former Governor Rico Rosselló Nevares signed sports betting into law in July of the same year.

Once sports betting goes live in Puerto Rico, both online and land-based versions of the vertical can be offered by operators that hold a license to do so.  

Sports betting in Puerto Rico: the practicalities 

Tax rates will differ for online and offline operators. Digital sportsbooks will have their gross gaming revenue (GGR) taxed at 12%, with this being 7% for land-based outlets. For daily fantasy sports, entry fees will be taxed at 12%. 

A ‘principal operator license’ will cost $50,000 and is applicable to the likes of online-only sportsbooks and land-based venues of which gambling is their main service, such as casinos. For off-track betting facilities, the cost is $2,500. The latter fee also applies to other similar retail points-of-sale. 

Fantasy sport licensing fees vary. For operators generating $10 million or upwards in annual revenue, they will need to pay $10,000. Businesses bringing in less than that will only need to pay $1,000.

It would appear that online sports betting won’t require operators to partner with a land-based casino, as is the case in states such as Illinois (for the time being). Sports betting and fantasy contests can also take place in hotels without casinos, casinos themselves, horse betting agencies, racetracks and inns. Other venues and shops that the PRGC feels are safe can also offer these services once they obtain a permit. 

Professional sports will be available on the betting market, as will college games and various forms of eSports. Markets within eSports will be available for first-person shooter, electronic sports, real-time strategy and fighting games. 

The minimum age for sports betting in Puerto Rico will be 18. Operators will be expected to put forward a responsible gambling strategy, as well as make responsible gambling messages visible on their premises. On top of this, the PRGC will offer self-exclusion for those who do not wish to partake in gambling activity. 

Now is probably a good time to introduce sports betting and daily fantasy sports in Puerto Rico 

Puerto Rico has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its tourism industry in particular has struggled, with international flights limited and hotels and casinos being forced to close. Visitors had begun to be welcomed back last month, with the economy also slowly reopening. However, a rise in cases means that this has needed to be reviewed. 

The island has also been hit by other natural disasters in recent years. In 2017, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria left their mark. 

According to Spectrum Gaming Group, sports betting in Puerto Rico could generate annual revenue of between $44 million and $62 million. Innovation Group, meanwhile, believes that the vertical could add an extra $68 million to the island’s economy by 2022. 

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