Let’s Talk About Gambling in Puerto Rico

November 15, 2022

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean Island and a territory of the United States. The capital is San Juan and the President is Joe Biden. Their official language is English and Spanish and their currency is dollars. Official population is about 3.2 million.

If you find yourself in the unincorporated US territory, and is interested in playing a game or two, here are a few facts you need to know about gambling in the country.

The Puerto Rico gambling industry revolves around it’s over 17 land-based casinos. The Puerto Rico Treasury Department also operates a traditional lottery (La Loteria Tradicional) and an electronic lottery (La Loteria Electronica).

 

The History

One of the oldest gambling activities in Puerto Rico appears to be the cockfights, a recreational activity introduced by the Spaniards and regulated by the Government for many years. At present, cockfights are held every day throughout Puerto Rico

Horse racing was also introduced to Puerto Rico by the Spaniards, and has been regulated by the Government since the beginning of the 20th Century. There is one horse racing track operating in Puerto Rico in 2022, which is the Camarero Racetrack in Canóvanas. Horse racing bettors can place pari-mutuel bets, at the track or an off-track betting facility.

Casinos represent one of the most recent legal gambling activities in Puerto Rico, having been instituted under the Random Games Law in 1948. (The Law has been revised on several occasions). There are over 17 Casinos in Puerto Rico (each found in authorised hotels), where both tourists and Puerto Ricans can gamble on slot machines, as well as blackjack, poker, craps, baccarat, pai gow and roulette.

Traditional lottery was officially instituted in 1934 in Puerto Rico, and it is played weekly, with a top prize of $150,000. In addition, there are three events with top prizes of $1 million. None of the prizes offered by the Traditional Lottery are taxed. “Loto” and “Pega Tres” (Pick Three) are special lottery games created in 1989.

These games are run electronically, and buyers are able to select their own numbers. In the case of “Loto,” gamblers purchase tickets for $1 and may choose six numbers between 1 and 38 (changed in 1997 to 1 and 42) for an estimated top prize of $2 million or more, as it accumulates. “Pega Tres” also costs $1 for a ticket and offers a top prize of $500. “Loto” is run once a week and “Pega Tres” games are held four times a week.

Charitable games, specifically bingo, were legalized in Puerto Rico in 1950. Only churches and non-profit organizations with at least 10 years of operation in Puerto Rico are permitted to obtain authorization from the Puerto Rico Department of State, to conduct charitable gaming activities and each specific activity requires a separate permit.

Sportsbetting was legalized in Puerto Rico, in June 29, 2019 as H.B. 2038 was signed into law. In December 30, 2020; Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez Garced signed the Senate Bill 1534, as an amendment to Puerto Rico’s gambling law, which included the removal of remote registration, which means that sports bettors will have to visit a retail sportsbook, to complete the registration process in person before placing their first bet.

Even though retail sportsbook is legal in Puerto Rico and there is no cap on sportsbetting licenses; so far, only one retail sportbook is available in Puerto Rico in 2022; opened by BetMGM, on February 9, 2022.

Mobile/Online sports betting is legal in Puerto Rico, but it is yet to be launched in the country. Though, it is expected that, some of the best sports betting apps, will soon start taking online wagers in the country.

Illegal lotteries in Puerto Rico include all types of lottery games not organized or authorized by the Government of Puerto Rico, e.g.“Bolita” (numbers), illegal horse race betting, dog fights, cockfights outside of licensed arenas and car races outside of officially established tracks.

Betting on sports events and on slot machines not regulated by the Government are also illegal in Puerto Rico.

You may not bet on politics in Puerto Rico, because this bet type is outlawed in the United States and its territories.

Real-time money online Casino is also illegal in the country.

The legal age

The legal age for sports betting in Puerto Rico is 18, and eligible bettors can place legal bets at the BetMGM Sportsbook, in Casino del Mar at La Concha Resort in San Juan.

Update on Sportsbet Gambling in Puerto Rico, 2022

It was reported that on April 4, 2022; DraftKings and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, announced that they will be bringing retail sportsbook to Foxwoods El San Juan Casino. They are also said to be planning to launch an online sportsbook in the Country.

Location

Puerto Rico betting sites will only accept bets from players located in Puerto Rico. Sportsbook operators are expected to use geo-fencing software, to block sports bettors attempting to place bets from outside the U.S. territory.

Taxation

Puerto Rico’s sports betting law does not address taxation on player winnings. However, U.S. bettors must declare all gambling winnings as part of their income.

Tax rate for retail (7%); online (will be 12%)

Regulation

The Puerto Rico Gaming Commission will be the state body to regulate all mobile sports betting in Puerto Rico. The executive director of the Commission is Jaime Rivera Emmanuelli

Gaming machine licenses cost $1,500 from which the Commission will retain $175 for its operating expenses, while $75 will go to the Puerto Rico Police Retirement (PRPR) Compensation.

Renewal of gaming machines license is $250 per year and the no of gaming machines allowed per business will be 10, with a big warning.

New Licenses

The Commission is reported to have accepted the recommendation made by the Sports Betting Bureau to grant licences to seven companies.

The named sports betting operators are, Ballers Puerto Rico Sportsbook, Liberman Media Group Gaming (LMG) and CCHPR Hospitality (Casino Metro), which have all been given temporary licences.

However, the suppliers; Swish Analytics Puerto Rico and US Integrity have been granted permanent licences, while Continent 8 Technologies PR LLC, and Caesars Digital PR Inc. have also been given temporary supplier licences.

According to the Executive Director of the Commission, in order to complete the licensing process, the seven companies will have to pay a fee to the government, based on the type of operation they plan to run, in the sports betting industry.

The Operators will have to pay $50,000, while the service suppliers will have to pay $5,000 and the lone technology provider; Caesars Digital PR, will pay $15,000.

What you can bet on in PR

Puerto Rico’s existing framework allows land-based casinos to offer in-venue sportsbooks, however betting services are restricted as they cannot offer any form of online betting.

Betting can also be done on Esports and professional sports and college athletics.

Responsible gaming in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico tackles the issue of problem gambling by allowing all participants to willingly join a self-exclusion list. Each operator interested in offering sports betting in the country, must include a responsible gaming plan, as part of the license application process.

The Mental Health and Addiction Prevention Services Authority, oversees the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Program, in Puerto Rico.

Other News

Liberman Media, one of the new licensees, has announced that it had entered a calculated partnership with Kambi Group Plc; to launch its ApuestaPR brand in 2023.

Liberman and Kambi aim to establish Puerto Rico’s market-dominant sportsbook brand ApuestaPR, which will be promoted to local audiences via the TeleOnce TV network.

BetMGM, DraftKings and Unibet are also reported to be seeking Puerto Rican partnerships, to launch their sportsbook properties.

References: prism.ucalary.ca

 

Gaming is Fun! Play Responsibly! Don’t Play, if You Can’t Afford to Lose!!

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