Outgoing Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez Garced has signed into law a new senate bill. It is Senate Bill 1534 which paves the way for the activation of sports betting and esports in the country. This is one of the last bills to be signed by the outgoing Governor before she stepped down after 16 months as the head of the government.
Changes to the law
The bill is basically an amendment of the current Gambling Law that was put in place on June 29, 2019. It was titled “Law of the Gambling Commission of the Government of Puerto Rico” and its aim was to “allow new industries and businesses to create jobs” and “create new sources of revenue to sustain government programs and essential services.”
Legitimacy of esports betting
This is particularly important for the esports betting scene. Most countries will at best make a single ruling for sports and assume that esports will also be covered by that law and at worst completely ignore the industry all together. This is what leads to unsafe betting practices and poor-quality products for consumers. These grey or black markets can capitalise on the lack of regulations in certain countries to operate with impunity. Simply by mentioning the word esports, it gives esports betting sites a better chance at gaining legitimacy and protecting their customers.
Views on the bill
Vázquez Garced said,
“I signed PS 1534 with great satisfaction. It’s a measure that paves the way for the esports and sports betting industries in Puerto Rico and encourages businesses and jobs in this sector.”
Since this is one of the last bills signed by the outgoing Governor and the project is still going through its regulatory process, the new government of Pedro Pierluisi will be in charge of implementing the law and activating these industries.
In a quote given to local news website Primera Hora, the Executive Director of the Gaming Commission, José Maymó Azize, said:
“Project 1534 amends the law in some aspects that needed to be changed. The most significant change is the fact that under the original law, players could register online and in person. Now, with this amendment, the first registration is required to be in person.”
Impact on esports
The big change that will affect the impact of esports betting in the legislation is the change that was mentioned in the above quote. The first registration for online sports betting should be made in person only, without the option to do it online. The previous law allowed players to register online only. Most esports betting is done solely online and for many people, it is the first sort of game they bet on. If the new law forces players to register in person, the extra work may put some people off the idea.
It is clear that Puerto Rico is planning to split their focus between traditional sports and esports. They have selected Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) to advise on the regulation of esports operations on the island. By appointing an external testing and compliance company, they are serious about bringing legislative efforts to bear for the esports betting scene. It is definitely important, according to government estimates, esports could bring around $87m in profits to the Puerto Rican government in the first five years of operations.