A statement issued by the office of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has confirmed the introduction of a bill that, if passed, will lead to the legalization of betting on sports and online video games in the country. The government hopes that by bringing sports wagering into the legal space it can generate up to $3bn per year by 2023. 

The statement noted that revenue generated from gaming and betting will be distributed to help fund the retirement of pensioners and youth sports programs. It will also be used to pay for prevention and treatment of gambling addiction, policing and education.

Rosselló said in his missive: “This industry has the potential to convert Puerto Rico into a jurisdiction in the vanguard of allowing the establishment of this new model, which will have a positive effect on our economy. We have worked on aggressive legislation that aspires at being able to market the island at the international and national levels as an attractive destination for the millions of people who bet on sports events.”

As well as enabling legal sports wagering, the bill would encompass gambling on online fantasy sports, or esports. “Electronic games are a growing segment, with an estimated 400 million people who form a younger demographic global audience,” said Rosselló . “It is estimated that in the gaming industry these will have a global economic impact of over $3bn in 2023. With this aggressive step, we can position Puerto Rico as a destination that promotes esports, in order to attract investment to the Puerto Rican economy.”

Operators will be expected to pay a six per cent rate of tax on revenue from terrestrial wagers, rising to 11 per cent for bets taken online. Sports betting licenses at licensed horse-betting agencies will benefit from a 50 per cent discount for the first 10 years. And there will be a new Gambling Commission put in place to oversee the regulation of sports betting et al.