Puerto Rico looks to improve national reserves
The latest proposal to legalise high street gaming machines was announced by Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares during a meeting of his party, the PNP. The video lottery machines would be a means of collecting funds for the island.
As control of casinos is under the Association of Tourism and Hotels, this organisation is against such a move as Puerto Rican hotels are in crisis following the opening of more modern hotels offering better facilities in tourist destinations such as The Bahamas, Punta Cana, etc.
According to Rossello, the plan is to include video gaming operations in the Inland Revenue system. “The system should be one that permits adequate regulation and eliminate illegal operations in order to collect what is due to the nation, what we should be able to collect.”
Puerto Rico was one of the first countries to regulate gaming but now it is at the tail end of the industry through lack of proper management or the modernisation of regulatory laws. It can be said that, like Uruguay and Chile, Puerto Rico has had casinos for over 50 years. However, lack of adequate regulation has led to the proliferation of unsupervised and unregulated street gaming machines in all three countries, with revenues adding nothing to the national coffers.
So far Uruguay and Chile maintain a passive acceptance of street machines but lately Puerto Rico is looking to legislate in order to gain necessary taxes to help alleviate the public debt. In January this year Governor Rossello entered office expecting to find a US$3 billion budget deficit but found it stood at over US$7 billion. Public debt has been exacerbated by the disaster caused by Hurricane Maria in October 2017. In February this year US federal disaster aid of US$16 billion was promised, a fraction of the US$94.4 billion Rossello says the island needs to recover from cataclysmic damage to its infrastructure and housing stock.