Puerto Rico sets sights on launching sports betting market by April

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Orlando Rivera Carrión, the new executive director of the Gaming Commission of Puerto Rico, has expressed hopes to launch a sports betting market in the country by April, although he warned that a few more steps still need to be taken in order to be fully ready.

According to the new director, the goal is to launch the market before the start of the new MLB season, as El Nuevo Día reported. The league is expected to resume training on February 17, while the opening day of the 2020/21 season would take place on April 1.

In one of the last days in charge of the government, former Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed into law the Senate Bill 1534, paving the way for the activation of sports betting and esports in the country. Puerto Rico seeks “new industries and businesses to create jobs” and “new sources of revenue to sustain government programs and essential services”.

However, before the market can debut, it’s necessary to establish a budget to finalize the regulation, which at the moment still needs the inclusion of the amendments made at the end of 2020.

“The Sports Betting Division has no budget. We need to provide one in order to finish the regulation,” the executive director said.

Additionally, and despite the opposition from different sectors, Rivera Carrión assured that each professional sports league will be able to decide whether their tournaments can be used for sports betting.

In case the leagues accept being included in sports betting offerings, they would have their own agreements in place with bookmakers and would receive money from them, although it’s still unclear if it would be a percentage of the bets made.

Furthermore, Rivera Carrión talked about the opposition to sports betting due to integrity risks, and assured that “for the local athlete it’s hard to give in [to those risks],” and stressed that this industry will represent additional income for the industry, even higher than what they receive from video games machines.