Puerto Rico could be on the cusp of legalizing sports betting. Nestor Alonso Vega has drafted bills to legalize online gambling and to regulate sports betting in the US territory.
These bills were made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2018 to end the federal ban on sports betting. Since then, several states have passed legislation and opened sportsbooks, and many other state legislatures are considering relevant bills.
Is it likely that these bills will pass?
Alonso Vega is the chair of the Tourism and Social Welfare Committee. If these two proposed bills are passed, it’s been estimated that gambling operators could make an additional $20m (£15.2m) each year. The 2018 legislative session will end this month, so if the bills are not passed before December, they will have to be taken up in 2019.
Each of these bills calls for 20% of the gambling revenue to go toward the government pension plan, with the casinos retaining the remaining 80%.
The Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association is preparing a report on the state of the current casino sector in the state and where there is room for growth.
The owner of three casinos in Puerto Rico, Miguel Vegas, has warned that the casino market in the state is saturated and significant profits will not be generated if the two bills pass.
Whatever happens, it is clear that big changes could be coming to the gambling sector in Puerto Rico sooner rather than later. Because the area is popular with tourists, gambling could provide a further incentive for people to visit.
Busy time for sports betting matters
A lot is going on in sports betting this month. Rhode Island is readying its sports betting offering, based on legislation that passed in June. The state will get a hefty 51% of the total revenues from sports betting.
Voters in Florida voted for Amendment 3, which will likely spell the end of legalized sports betting in the state for some time. The amendment puts the power to expand gambling laws into the hands of voters. It is likely that voters will not support sports betting.
Arkansas has passed legislation that will create four casino licenses in the state. These are the first of the kind in the region, and the licensed casinos will offer sports betting.
Several other states have bills in the works that will be introduced in 2019. Among them are Ohio and Michigan, which decided to wait until after the midterm elections before debating the merits of legalized sports betting.
One thing is for sure. Sports betting has come a long way in the country in just six months since the ban was lifted.