Puerto Rico Sports Betting and Esports Bill Makes Progress

Former Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez Garced has signed into law Senate Bill 1534, thus moving a step closer to launching esports and sports betting in the country.

Project 1534 Regulating Sports Betting and Esports is Signed into Law

Puerto Rico’s outgoing Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed into law the Senate Bill 1534, which paves the way for the activation of sports betting and esports in the country. Vázquez Garced assumed the office in 2019 following the resignation of Ricardo Roselló and stepped down on January 2, 2021.

The bill effectively amends the previous Gambling Law of June 29, 2019, known as “Law of the Gambling Commission of the Government of Puerto Rico” (Law 81-2019). The regulation seeks to “allow new industries and businesses to create jobs” as well as to “create new sources of revenue to sustain government programs and essential services.”

In a Twitter post, Vázquez Garced expressed her satisfaction regarding the signature of the bill. She said this is a measure that paves the way for the esports and sports betting industries in Puerto Rico, and will lead to the creation of businesses and jobs in this sector.

The most significant change introduced by Senate Bill 1534 is that the first registration for online sports betting should be made in person only without the option to do it online, opposed to the previous law, the Executive Director of the Gaming Commission, José Maymó Azize, said to local media Primera Hora.

Allowing Operators to Go Live Has Faced Numerous Obstacles

Former Governor Roselló played an important role in legalizing esports and sports betting in the country, as he signed the Betting Committee Act in July, 2019. The law was designed to authorize sports betting, horse race betting, fantasy contests and betting on esports at casinos, at the island’s one racecourse, as well as at off-track betting parlors and online.

However, after Roselló’s resignation a few days later amid a scandal, the approved legislation and the whole process were put on hold, thus throwing Puerto Rico in a state of limbo.

In April last year, the Director of Gambling for Puerto Rico’s Tourism Board, Jaime Alex Irizarry, resigned, thus making all of his progress on sports betting regulation irrelevant and returning Puerto Rico to an initial position once again. 

Now, the course of action is in the hands of Puerto Rico’s new Governor Pedro Pierluisi, who will be responsible for implementing the law and allowing operators from the industry to go live.

Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) will assist the Gaming Commission in drafting regulations governing operations and will also provide consulting services related to sports betting, fantasy sports, and esports.

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