Puerto Rico Gambling Laws Seek To Help Combat Long Standing Financial Crisis

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Nov. 16, 2022: Puerto Rico has faced many economic crises over the past few years and is struggling to restore its original status. From the COVID-19 crisis to disastrous hurricanes, Puerto Rico has endured some of the worst crises in recent memory.

But as the struggle persists, a new era of gaming could help salvage the strain to some extent.

On October 25, the House of Representatives approved legislation that targets the amendment of a couple of portions of Puerto Rico’s gaming law, the Law of Gaming Machines. It aims to raise more revenue for the Treasury and subsidize long overdue government projects.

Lawmakers voted on the bill, which surprisingly had an overwhelming majority, with 33 legislators voting in favour of it and 10 voting against it.

With More Gaming Comes More Licensing Fees

The bill, championed by House Reps José Rivera Madera and Orlando Aponte Rosario, concludes how much should be payable for certain licenses and more improved acquisition measures.

The new legislation is predicted to increase treasury funds in the wake of a tumultuous financial crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The adverse effects of hurricanes only added more salt to injury, tearing through the Island in the past couple of years.

The newly proposed amendments will help small- and medium-sized casino businesses to sell entertainment without unfair competition from the more established brands. In addition, they could guarantee a ripple effect on another industry – a percentage of the revenues generated from these businesses will be allotted to civil service.

The Gaming Commission will receive $175 per license purchased as its operating costs, while the Puerto Rico Police Retirement compensation will retain $75. The new bill proposes $1,500 as the designated amount for physical casino gaming machine licenses. The PRPR will receive $450 per Section 8 of the law, while the commission will retain the rest for its operating costs.

In the same breath, the proposed bill legalizes the operation of gaming machines in government-approved enterprises. As a result, a maximum of 25,000 land-based gaming machines will be authorized in Puerto Rico in the first two years of the law’s validity. However, this number could increase to 45,000 should it be approved.

Enterprises will incur a $250 cost per year to purchase a new license or renew an expiring license and can only purchase a maximum of 10 machine licenses. Also, the law will regard each screen as one gaming machine, regardless of the number of screens on a gaming machine.

Slowly But Hopefully

It’s been five years since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. Some territories were without power supply and fresh water for over a year. This was a headache for a Puerto Rican government that recorded $72 billion in debt and $55 billion in pension liabilities. The US government had made plans to help the government, but COVID-19 hit, affecting businesses and leading to some policy changes.

However, after the pandemic subsided, the Unites Stated government extended its assistance to the Puerto Rican government, helping it begin its economic restoration journey. However, Hurricane Fiona had other plans after it hit the Island in September. As a result, the country was back again to its initial predicament, with some parts experiencing no power supply and water shortages.

Currently, about 10% of Puerto Ricans are without power, and 5% are without water, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency reports. Unfortunately, with the US again pledging to help, Puerto Rico can only draw as much as $1.15 billion annually, as authorized by the Financial Oversight and Management Board, which is too little to solve such a wrecking crisis.

Therefore, the government must find ways to combat these shortcomings and restore its economy. It already announced its plans to pursue legalized sports wagering like NFL betting, which could net up to $87 million by 2024. Throw the current gaming machine legislation in the mix, and we could see the beginning of a new day.