Top Online Casinos for Puerto Rico
Often referred to as America’s down-low casino capital, Puerto Rico has a rich history of legal land-based gambling, but what about the opportunities to play your cards right online? Just a few years ago, fans of distant entertainment were clearly out of luck, however, things have changed since then and what we are witnessing today is the beginning of the iGaming era in one of the most fascinating places on earth.
One of the stunning pearls of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is the smallest island of the Greater Antilles. Officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, it is actually an archipelago of five islands surrounded by hundreds of islets and cays. Situated about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, Rich Port is an unincorporated territory of the United States whose citizens make the majority of nearly four million tourists who come to visit this popular travel destination every year.
Being just one-third the size of Haiti and with a population of less than 3 million, Puerto Rico is a really small place, however, the scale of the local casino industry is more than impressive. The island can brag of over twenty luxurious casino resorts that belong to some of the world’s most renowned hotel chains with Hyatt, Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, and Marriott to mention just a few. Such a strong presence of big-name brands comes as no surprise – Puerto Rico has a lot to offer to gaming customers of all styles and preferences.
Quite interestingly, the island’s largest brick-and-mortar venue is not located in San Juan, the biggest city and capital of the commonwealth, but in Caguas – the floors of Casino Real, which is part of Four Points by Sheraton hotel, boast 570 slot machines and offer roulette, poker, and mini-baccarat tables. Still, the most fashionable and exquisite establishments can be found in San Juan, like awe-inspiring The Condado Plaza Hilton that features 40 bean-shaped tables to play a wide variety of Vegas classics and 400 sleek cabinets to hit the reels.
Local Gambling Laws
Almost all types of land-based gambling activities, from casino games and bingo to lotteries and horse racing, have been legit in Puerto Rico for many decades. Until quite recently, incredibly popular across the Caribbean cockfighting also was an absolutely legal and regulated form of betting, however, in 2018, Congress changed a respective federal law that had allowed this “sport” in the territory.
Cockfighting is not only an inseparable part of the island’s culture and traditions but also a significant part of the local economy, therefore no wonder, Puerto Ricans challenged the law. Their efforts, however, failed as in October 2021, the Supreme Court left the ban in place. Even though as an unincorporated US territory Puerto Rico is allowed to pass its own laws, the United States Congress still has the power to revoke any such law if they deem it appropriate.
Speaking of online gambling, the territory obeys the federal laws, meaning that both the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) and the Wire Act of 1961 that prohibits interstate wagering-related electronic transmissions remain applicable within Puerto Rico. However, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, things are changing for the better. To start with, in March 2012, the Government of Puerto Rico authorized and approved the first legal website to offer horse race betting to all residents of the island who are at least 21 years old.
The year 2021…
… became a real game-changer as in January, Wanda Vázquez Garced, former Governor of Puerto Rico, signed into law Senate Bill 1534, giving the green light for online sports betting and esports. Ten months later, on November 22, the newly-created Gambling Commission began receiving applications from potential operators interested in launching sports betting platforms. It is already known that Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) was selected as an adviser on the regulation of the esports vertical, which is expected to generate $87M in profits in the first five years alone.
It’s worth mentioning that the economic recovery and growth of the island are the main reason for the aforementioned changes. In fact, online gambling is seen by the Government as one of the most viable solutions able to deliver that sought-after financial boost so badly needed to help the nation rebuild after the disastrous effects of Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico in September 2017.
Online Gambling In Puerto Rico
No doubt, recently, there have been some very positive developments in Puerto Rico but many challenges still lie ahead of the island’s Gambling Commission and Government. A great many industry experts are pretty sure that online casinos are the next thing to be fully legalized, however, it is also clear that this process won’t be quick and easy.
In the meantime, Puerto Ricans can take advantage of numerous online casinos that accept US players. Some of those offshore websites are top-rated venues, which are also popular among punters from other parts of the world, supporting English and Spanish and offering a crypto-friendly gambling environment. The choice of games may vary from one site to another but usually, players do not have any problem choosing their perfect fit between hundreds of online slots and a wide variety of live roulette, blackjack, poker, or baccarat tables.
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