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Puerto Rico Looks to Betting for Relief

More than a year after a deadly storm killed 3,000 people and caused billions of dollars of damage, Puerto Rico struggles to rebuild. Now the Caribbean island and U.S. territory has proposed online gaming as a way to generate revenues.

According to LegalUSPokerSites.com, Puerto Rico‘s legislative assembly has been considering legal sports betting since late 2018, when a bill was introduced by Rep. Nestor Alonso Vega. That bill came and went without action, making it null and void.

This year, legislators are looking to legalize online casino gaming, sports betting and possibly iPoker. The legislation was officially introduced by Governor Ricardo Rossello; among the first steps would be the establishment of a gaming commission with seven members from the public and private sectors.

Sports betting will be taxed at 6 percent for land-based operators and 11 percent for online operators, with some of the returns earmarked for problem gambling and responsible gambling programs.

“Our administration is committed to new and creative ways to improve the lives of all Puerto Ricans, especially as we continue our reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,“ Rossello said. “This legislation, made possible by a Supreme Court decision last year, will make Puerto Rico an attractive place to visit, which will greatly benefit our tourism industry.”

According to a study from the Innovation Group, the industry could garner $29 million in 2020, rising to $87 million by 2024. A second study from the Spectrum Gaming Group valued the industry at between $44 million and $62 million per year.

In a third study commissioned the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association, Global Market Advisors came up with more modest predictions: land-based sports betting alone would generate $5.4 million in the first year; land-based with a mobile option would bring in $7.4 million in revenue per year by 2022. As for the online betting market, Puerto Rico could expect $23.4 million, GMA said.

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