Just a month after Puerto Rico kicked off its sports betting operations, SBC talked with the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission, Orlando Rivera Carrión, who assured that they’re happy to “have exceeded all expectations.”
As the regulator shared, around $500,000 were registered in bets between February 11-28. It should be noted that, at the moment, sports betting operations are only allowed in person through the only authorized operator, BetMGM, at the La Concha Resort Casino.
“These results are quite good for the short period of time and without the possibility to bet online,” highlighted Rivera Carrión, and revealed that the Commission is considering “a period of approximately 60 days” to launch the full market with new land-based and online operators.
Even before starting operations, companies from all over the world showed interest in being part of the market, taking into account the attractiveness of the development of the industry throughout the US in general.
However, the executive director said that in recent weeks they have received more requests, “including Foxwoods, DraftKings, FanDuel, Sportium, Betcris, Caliente, and two local operators that are quite advanced.”
Regardless, the regulator stated that “there will be ten operators that will make up the whole market,” while “four or five” will be ready to launch soon.
“Industry compliance and control within the organization are very strict in Puerto Rico,” said the Executive Director. There’s also the fact that the sports betting regulatory framework, in particular, has more restrictions, so the work behind the scenes to authorize operators is taking longer than expected.
In addition, he detailed the importance of responsible gambling within the legislation, which obliges operators to contribute to organizations that prevent and help people with gambling problems. The island has a specific law on gambling addiction which, along with other regulations from other industries, offers free help to victims and their families.
For Rivera Carrión, this will only confirm Puerto Rico’s position as a transparent and careful industry. As he explained, the island has been an example of a regulated and beneficial development in terms of gambling, having been the second jurisdiction from the US – after Las Vegas – to legalize casinos.
In fact, he said, the regulatory framework from Atlantic City arises from the Puerto Rican experience, and it is estimated that sports betting will also generate a similar example in the Caribbean and other Latin American jurisdictions. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” he stated.
The Commission also highlighted “the cultural aspect that favors betting” in the territory, although the expectations around sports betting can’t be compared with larger states in the US or giants such as Brazil. First, because the developments are subject to the conditions imposed by Law 81. And second, because Puerto Rico has only 3.3 million inhabitants.
This will not take away the country’s leadership in the industry, and Rivera Carrión stated that the market “will represent an important boost for the economy and additional income for the Puerto Rican coffers,” but it will evolve along with other verticals from the industry like lotteries, bingos, and casinos – with three new ones already expected to be installed this year.
Fantasy sports and esports will also contribute, as both are contemplated within the sports betting framework and have already proven to be highly popular throughout the Caribbean and Puerto Rico in particular.
Additionally, the certification laboratories that force companies to go through several audit processes to confirm that their technologies and offers meet international compliance and effectiveness standards also make Puerto Rico stand out.
“Puerto Rico doesn’t enable any offering that has not been subject to the laboratories,” said Rivera Carrión.
The inclusion of the sports sector in all areas of betting is also celebrated: sports leagues have received several options to build relationships with bookmakers to increase revenues for clubs, such as the sale of images and official data, sponsorships, coverage, and more.
“The law imposes direct [revenue] distribution for the leagues. 5% of the Gaming Commission’s revenue will be invested directly in sports. Each league will have a unique opportunity to reach more people around the world through sports betting, this will create new interest and great benefits for sports on the island,” said Rivera Carrión.