MetroBets: Revolutionising the Puerto Rican market through reliability

Ismael Vegas of MetroBet

When thinking about expanding into the Latin American region, South America is the main focus for multiple companies. Markets like Argentina, Colombia, and the up-and-coming Brazil are usually highlighted as the most interesting ones.

For Caesars Entertainment, the expansion to the south had a first stop in the Caribbean with Casino Metro in Puerto Rico, where it launched its services for the first time in the region.

Unlike the South American countries, the Caribbean and Central America region has certain peculiarities that are not found in other parts of the continent. It’s not just about the interest in baseball and American football, but also about the regulatory structure in terms of compliance, player protection, and anti-risk measures.

Ismael Vega, General Manager of Casino Metro, talked to SBC Leaders about how the partnership with Caesars was born, what relevance both companies give to responsible initiatives and what type of betting offer players can expect as the industry continues to develop locally and regionally.

For Vega, one of the benefits they find in this association is the union of two brands that carry their own weight, since they bring “integrity and reliability” to the operations.

“Joining forces with the global leader in casinos and sports betting is a great vantage point and customers are looking for just that: to have the best experience when placing their sports bets. This partnership offers just that,” he said.

A mutual approach is what linked the two operators: “Caesars was looking for the best operator in Puerto Rico”, and according to Vega, that’s how they found Casino Metro.

When announcing the partnership, the President of Caesars Digital Eric Hession shared: “As we pursued sports betting in Puerto Rico under its unique framework, we wanted to align with the best possible partner that would provide deep, localized knowledge of the market. We found that partner in Casino Metro, which has a strong brand and customer base in the Puerto Rico market.”

The companies also shared their plans to eventually launch a mobile app in 2023, subject to regulatory approvals, something that in some regions is essential to be able to compete in the market.

According to the general manager, they’re in the process of reviewing internal controls in order to comply with the licensing requirements of the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission.

The idea is to be able to have an application ready by mid-2023, “which will feature an expanded offering” for customers than the one in the land-based sportsbook located in the casino.

To be able to offer this type of betting service, Puerto Rico walked a different path than its peers in Latin America. Being a US territory means that Puerto Rico had the possibility to open its betting market after PASPA was repealed at a federal level in 2018.

After officially launching its process to regulate the industry in 2021, the gaming commission and the government announced at the beginning of November 2022 the approval of seven companies, one of them being MetroBets with Caesars Sportsbook.

The Commission highlighted that betting has the potential to be “an important source of jobs and the creation of commercial spaces for entertainment,” while it will also “generate new revenue for the Treasury.”

In fact, the betting space inside the Casino Metro represented a $2 million investment, while MetroBets created 30 new jobs, totaling a workforce of over 170.

Currently, and only a few months after launching operations, the MetroBets sportsbook recognizes one sport as the most dominant: basketball.

“The NBA continues to be our customers’ favorite sport. The overall behavior remains to be seen at MetroBets as we need to analyze the Major League Baseball season and the World Baseball Classic, held from March 7 to 21,” Vega said.

However, the operator’s digital marketing strategy and efforts around promotions, offers, and partner activities will allow them to expand their reach to include more options for partners and more opportunities for new customers.

As an example, Vega said that MetroBets showed the Super Bowl on a giant screen outside the casino, on a closed street, and with live music and entertainment from “one of the most beloved entertainment characters in Puerto Rico.”

Furthermore, in order to compete with other similar markets, both in Latin America and the United States, entering the mobile sports betting market will be key: “In every jurisdiction, 80% of the income from sports betting comes from mobile operations,” he assured.

Another key point to succeed in the market is to have appropriate compliance measures in place, as well as provisions to protect players.

In MetroBets’ case, currently, the most important measure is that players have to register physically at the casino since the only way for them to bet in person or mobile is by registering at one of the kiosks.

“This measure is very important. The fact that we’re associated with a giant like Caesars gives the customer a degree of reliability and seriousness that their bet is safe.”

“Fortunately, the Gaming Commission has done an amazing job around licensing. All operators have to be registered as a service provider. Every state is different. In Puerto Rico, we have one of the most rigorous states and jurisdictions. For example, some states don’t require physical restoration, since they validate data in a different way.”

When analyzing the benefits that both Casino Metro and MetroBets bring to the island, Vega was very clear in highlighting that they provide another offer to tourists.

“There’s people who travel to gamble. There’s people who travel for business and pleasure and Puerto Rico is a ‘total package’ with sports betting in place. Caesars has global customers who will see the island as an alternative: they don’t lose the Caesars element to place their bets.”