Fiscal board puts hold on proposed video lottery terminal rules pending review
By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board has ordered the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission to refrain from executing certain video lottery terminal regulations until the board ensures they are compliant with the fiscal plan.
The oversight board was referring to Regulation 9174 of 2020 for the Operational Inspection and Interconnection of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) and Regulation 9175 of 2020 for the Issuance, Management, and Inspection of Licenses of VLTs. The regulations, which were paralyzed in January by the island Supreme Court after they were challenged by an organization of VLT operators, regulate the use of the machines and the fees for licenses.
In a letter last week, the oversight board said it was necessary to respond to a number of statements the Gaming Commission made in a letter dated Jan. 14, 2022 that the Board found objectionable. The commission said its decisions were not subject to oversight board review and concluded the letter by stating the proposed regulations are “currently suspended, not because the Oversight Board has yet to complete its review, but rather because the Government does not yet have a Central Monitoring System, a key piece in their implementation.”
“These statements are incorrect and raise serious concerns,” the oversight board said. “As such, we are taking this opportunity to ensure that the Commission understands that, per the terms of PROMESA [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act] Section 204(b) and the Policy, the proposed regulations may not be implemented, irrespective of the status of the Central Monitoring System, unless and until the Oversight Board completes its review of the official translations; receives the additional information it requires to conduct and complete its review; and approves the Proposed Regulations. To be clear, through this process we are not assessing the wisdom of the policy decisions of the Commonwealth; our review under the Policy is focused on ensuring consistency with the fiscal plan.”
The oversight board said it endeavors to complete its review as quickly as possible, adding that the commission took a long time to send the proposed regulations to the board for review. The board received official translations of the proposed regulations on Jan. 14, even though they were originally drafted in 2020.
Second, while “the Oversight Board promptly reviews all submissions made under its policy, it is not subject to a specific time limit once it determines it requires more information, as it has done here,” the board said.
“We provided you a list of the information we require to complete our review on February 15, 2022. We have yet to receive a response,” the entity said.
“We trust that, to the extent there was any disagreement or confusion about the Oversight Board’s powers and role in the review and approval of the Proposed Regulations, our discussion of the issues above puts such matters to rest,” the board added. “We further expect the Proposed Regulations will not be implemented unless and until the Oversight Board completes its review and approves them, notwithstanding any additional practical impediments that may currently prevent their implementation.”