Puerto Rico Horse Racing Nears $1m in Weekend Bets as Activity Resumes

  • Horse racing return on June 5 registered $856,524 in direct bets on Friday and Saturday
  • Island's first racing activity in almost three months following COVID-19 lockdown
  • Puerto Rico currently eyeing esports market to generate $87m profit in five years
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Horse racing returned to Puerto Rico on June 5, registering almost $1m worth of bets placed over the weekend. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A strong opening weekend

Horse racing returned to Puerto Rico on June 5, with almost $1m worth of direct bets placed on the races over the course of the weekend. Racing on the island came at a halt nearly three months ago in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Direct bets placed over the two days amounted to $856,524

According to figures provided by the Puerto Rico Horse Reform Committee, there was $419,576 worth of direct bets made on Friday, with another $436,948 wagered on Saturday. Direct bets placed over the two days amounted to $856,524. 

Income was also made through the Simulcast platform for other racetracks. Here, betting operations contributed to $21,110 on Friday and $26,595 on Saturday. 

Gradual return to normality

As reported by El Nuevo Día, the executive director of the Horse Reform Committee, Eduardo Maldonado, thanked fans for the strong interest shown in racing over the weekend. He said: “We know that thousands of Puerto Ricans who weren’t used to placing bets on this sport have decided to do it and are excited to have some type of sports activity to look forward to.”

The weekend of racing was greatly welcomed following an extended lockdown period. Restrictions are gradually being lifted, with popular sports like basketball and baseball still awaiting a return to action. There have been 3,935 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Puerto Rico to date, resulting in 138 deaths.

The popularity of horse racing in Puerto Rico has been declining in recent times. In 1999, there was $245m worth of horse bets made, compared with only $77m in 2017.

Legal betting in Puerto Rico

Legislation in Puerto Rico allows racing betting both on-track and at all of the state’s authorized off-track betting parlors. 333 agencies accepted bets from the public on Friday, with 344 opening the following day. 

Sports betting in the country became legal after former Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed the Betting Committee Act on July 29, 2019. The measure that passed into law allows sports betting, esports betting, fantasy sports, and off-track horse racing betting. It also includes online gambling, but the rules and regulations for these activities have yet to be created.

a profit of $87m for the Puerto Rican government

Esports is one of the key areas that the authorities in Puerto Rico are looking at to generate extra revenue. The national Gaming Commission has brought Gaming Laboratories International on board to advise on the sector, in the hope that it could bring about a profit of $87m for the Puerto Rican government in the initial five years.