In a move intended to create more jobs and provide much-needed income, Puerto Rico has announced new legislation that would legalize esports betting in the U.S. commonwealth. While the law still has some steps to go through before going into effect, the outgoing Governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, has signed the bill which would also allow betting on traditional sports. With the continued rise of esports, the legalization of betting has opened up a new potential revenue stream. Although it’s not legal everywhere, it looks like that may well be changing.
Over the course of the past four years, Puerto Rico has struggled with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria as well as a severe lack of support from the outgoing administration. As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is in a bit of a difficult position. It’s often forgotten that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, pay income taxes, and ought to be able to rely on the support of the U.S. government. As the island continues to find ways to rebuild and recover, bringing jobs and income into the commonwealth’s economy becomes of particular import. Hence the creation of Project 1534.
According to an article from Esports Insider, the bill will revise existing laws to legalize the betting, both online and in person, on esports and traditional sports: “Project 1534 will allow punters to bet on esports legally through mobile and online after registering in-person at a land-based retail betting facility.” Garced has described the bill as legislation which “leads the esports and sports betting industry in encouraging businesses and jobs in this sector. This amendment will complete and launch a new industry with the potential to create thousands of jobs.”
Technically, sports betting was legalized back in 2019; however, without legislative support regulating the practice, little forward motion was achieved. This new bill, with its attention to registration and logistics, will allow for the goals of the legislation to be pursued in earnest. It’s important to note that Puerto Rico will be joining the likes of Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia, which have all already legalized betting on esports. According to TheSportsGeek.com, other states such as Maine “have legislation on the table to specifically allow esports wagering.” With a commonwealth like Puerto Rico taking such steps, it will be interesting to see which other states and territories follow their lead.
In the past we’ve written about some of the pitfalls regarding gambling and esports. As with many things, there are positives as well as negatives of facilitating an industry which can perpetuate real issues like gambling addiction. However, with the right kinds of support, awareness, and legislation, Puerto Rico ultimately has more to gain by bringing much needed employment opportunities and the influx of money from an industry booming despite the economic fragility left in the wake of a year like 2020. If esports gambling can ensure a brighter future for Puerto Rico, it sounds like it’s a safe bet.