"Sports betting needs to be ready before in time for the new MLB season," Rivera Carrión said, making reference to the baseball league platform, which has hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican followers. The season begins in April.
Sports betting will be allowed in Puerto Rico under Law No 1,534. This piece of legislation is from 2019, but it was amended last year and signed into law by Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, and is aimed at generating employment and tax revenue for the country.
But first, the law must face a series of challenges, Rivera Carrión warned. The rules are not ready, and the amendments made in late 2020 still need to be included.
Rivera Carrión added that a budget hasn’t been drawn up to finish the rules and set the matter in motion. "No budget has been set for the Sports Betting Division yet, we need it to finish establishing the rules," Rivera Carrión said.
Under the new law, sports betting would become legal throughout the island, even though the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee is against it since, according to them, wagering on sporting events would be detrimental to sports integrity. Members of the horse racing industry aren’t big fans either; they believe they will be losing part of their revenue to sports bets.
But the decision to accept that their tournaments are subject to sports betting lies in the hands of the Puerto Rican professional leagues. They would do that through agreements with betting companies, and would receive a sum from the in exchange, Rivera Carrión said.
Rivera Carrión, appointed by Governor Pedro Pierluisi, is fully aware of the spors sector’s opposition. He said that he understands the risks this activity poses to sports integrity but, for athletes, "it is hard to ‘sell themselves’ on a local level."
As regards horse racing, Rivera Carrión has said sports betting would represent an additional income to the industry, well above the numbers they generate from video gaming machines.