Puerto Rico Adding Three New Casino Licenses before 2021 Ends

The territory of Puerto Rico is looking to add three new more casino licenses, bringing the total to 19 before 2021 is out. One licensee applicant has already received the go-ahead from the territory’s gaming commission.

Expanding Puerto Rico’s Casino Gaming Capacity

A trio of casinos is seeking to acquire gaming licenses in Puerto Rico, the territory reported last week. According to the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission, the Condado Plaza Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton-Dorado, and Tribute Fortfolio are all seeking to acquire the necessary licenses to start offering slots and table games.

As per the commission, the Condado Plaza has already been granted preliminary approval to move forward with its casino gaming project, with the other two applications still pending. All three properties are expected to launch before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Condado is planning to introduce as many as 300 slot machines and over 20 table games. The establishment will invest $33 million into the gaming space and seek to establish 200 permanent jobs created as a result.

The other applications are hoping to introduce gaming of a similar landscape with 200 slot machines and 120 new jobs generated by each casino. The number of table games will probably be closer to 15 for each of the properties’ new casino gaming floors.

Numbers Slow, But Puerto Rico Expanding into Sports Betting

This will bring the number of casinos to 19, from the current 16 licensed properties in Puerto Rico. Gross gaming revenue, though, has not been particularly strong. Before the pandemic hit, Puerto Rico managed to generate a GGR of $300 million in 2019, lower than most states in the mainland.

However, Puerto Rico is not giving up on expanding its footprint in the gaming space. The territory is working on introducing sports betting legislation that would allow it to add more opportunities for those who seek games of chance to enjoy themselves.

Perhaps the biggest development this year comes from BetMGM, the joint-venture initiative by Entain and MGM Resorts, which struck a partnership with Casino del Mar at La Concha Resort, seeking to introduce a sports betting facility once the territory gives green light to the activity.

Meanwhile, the Foxwoods El San Juan Casino launched in November, becoming the latest property to open its doors for gaming operations in the territory. The legalization of sports betting is currently left for 2022 at the earliest with no support this year.

BetMGM though has been sure to secure market access ahead of time, banking on the prospects of Puerto Rico passing legislation in the foreseeable future.

More Tourists Mean More Gamblers

Puerto Rico’s tourism has been recovering from the nadir of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though new strains of the disease are surging globally, enough safety protocols were introduced to restore the flow of people from the mainland.

Tourism fell from 2.2 million people visiting from the mainland in 2019 to just 1.1 million throughout 2020. However, 2021 has been a strong recovery year for the territory, as the room tax collected for the first eight months of the year surged to record-high levels according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC).

Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean assured that despite the challenges, the territory was recovering quickly and showing resilience in hosting tourists and ensuring their safety.

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