Puerto Rico Inches Closer to Sports Betting, DFS, and Esports Launch

Posted on: August 16, 2020, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: August 17, 2020, 12:09h.

Puerto Rico is moving closer to getting sports betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and esports operations in the United States territory.Puerto Rico sports betting DFS People in Puerto Rico will soon be able to bet on their favorite sports teams, including their beloved national baseball program. (Image: Ulises Ruiz/Getty)

The Puerto Rico Gaming Commission (PRGC) recently announced the initiation of a public consultation period that will run for 30 days. The PRGC says questions and comments from the general public submitted before the commission’s next meeting, scheduled virtually for August 19 at 9 a.m., will be considered and potentially discussed.

Puerto Rico passed sports betting, DFS, and esports legislation last year. The bill gave the PRGC authority to set regulations on the gaming activities and issue licenses to qualified operators.

PRGC Executive Director Jose Maymo-Azize added that COVID-19 has made the legalization of sports betting, DFS, and esports all the more imperative, as casino resorts across the territory have lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue due to greatly reduced tourism.

Letter of the Law 

Puerto Rico is subject to the Congress’ powers under the territorial clause of Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution. As such, US federal law applies to the sovereign state that’s located approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Miami.

The US Supreme Court’s May 2018 ruling that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was in violation of anti-commandeering interpretations of the Tenth Amendment gave states, as well as territories, the freedom to decide their own laws on sports betting.

In its initial regulations, Puerto Rico called for the PRGC to allow land-based and online sports betting. Sportsbooks will share six percent of their brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue (GGR) with the government, and 12 percent of their mobile sports win.

Sports betting would be permitted at various businesses, including casinos, hotels without casinos, inns, racetracks, and any other establishment that PRGC deems viable and secure.

DFS operators will pay a 12 percent tax on their collected contest entry fees.

COVID Urgency

Tourism is a major contributor to the Puerto Rican economy. But the coronavirus has delivered the sector a catastrophic blow, one that could last for many more months, if not years.

Puerto Rico is Spanish for “rich port.” But its busiest port will be anything but rich in the near future. The Port of San Juan welcomes more than 1.4 million annual cruise passengers each year. More than 40 cruise ships confirmed coronavirus cases prior to their suspension of operations.

Puerto Rico is home to roughly two dozen casinos, all of which are found at resorts. They, too, have suffered, as international air travel has been grounded during the pandemic.

Last month, Puerto Rico launched a campaign formally announcing the reopening of inbound tourism, effective July 15. But following an increase in new COVID-19 cases, the government reimplemented restrictions and ordered casinos, bars, gyms, marinas, and theaters to close.