Gov’t grants two more online sports betting licenses
Puerto Rico Gaming Commission Executive Director Jaime Rivera Emmanuelli
By THE STAR STAFF
Puerto Rico Gaming Commission Executive Director Jaime Rivera Emmanuelli announced the approval of two new online sports betting operations, marking the industry’s sustained growth when added to the first approval granted earlier this month.
“A few weeks ago, the commissioners approved the first online betting operation for Casino del Mar and its business partner, BetMGM, which supplies the electronic betting platform. Today, we announce the approval of two other centers: Casino Metro, which will operate in alliance with Caesars Entertainment, and Stadium (DBA Winning), which will use IGT’s betting platform,” Rivera Emmanuelli said.
“With these three operations, we officially start a new phase of sports betting in Puerto Rico, and with it, we will see the growth of this market, which will generate tourist and economic activity and solid income for the government, among others,” he said.
The Gaming Commission has issued 30 licenses, broken down into five operator licenses and 25 service provider licenses. Of the five licensed operators, two are in the process of evaluating internal operating controls. The licensing of companies will foster the development of professionals specializing in online sports betting, Rivera Emmanuelli noted.
The regulatory entity projects that the island government will collect over $4 million from sports betting during the next fiscal year. Rivera Emmanuelli added that the public’s interest in digital betting platforms is an international trend that Puerto Rico has joined.
“This new form of entertainment offers a wide range of plays in sports such as basketball, baseball, and the NFL, which has the Superbowl event, and possibly special events like Miss Universe, among others,” he said.
The official said the three licensed companies have complied with the parameters established in the internal controls required by law and regulations. This enabled them to launch their operations online and make available to the public the mobile applications that must be downloaded and used to make plays from anywhere and on any electronic device.
“One of the advantages of online betting sites is their high level of security,” Rivera Emmanuelli said. “In Puerto Rico, the Gaming Commission is in charge of regulating, monitoring, and controlling the activities of online betting operators so that users have a satisfying gaming experience.”
He noted the difference between face-to-face bets in casinos and electronic bets.
“Until now, the player had to go to a gaming center, in this case, a casino, and from there make his move,” the official said. “Once those betting centers met the requirements of the Gaming Commission, they could move to the new phase of online betting.”
For a company to obtain authorization to operate online, it must obtain the endorsement of the Gaming Commission in two stages.
The first stage is the operator’s licensing, be it a casino or another type of space. In this stage, the entity and its partners or main shareholders are evaluated to determine whether they meet the requirements to belong to a highly regulated industry. They must demonstrate that they comply with their tax obligations and show the corporation’s financial statements, among other requirements.
The second phase touches on the internal controls of the operator. The Gaming Commission ensures that they comply with some 18 lines of daily operating standards. For example, they must have rules for keeping their books, paying taxes, preventing money laundering, guaranteeing payments to players, avoiding conflicts between players and gambling houses, preventing hacking, and ensuring that players reside in Puerto Rico, among others.