The Congressman Angel Rodriguez has proposed a 90-day amnesty for operators of illegal slot machines in Puerto Rico. At the moment the Senate is considering a project to eliminate all gaming machines outside the country’s hotel casinos but Rodriguez says: “What we are seeking is to gain more tax revenue by legalizing an industry that already exists.”
The initiative to ban all gaming machines outside the casinos or the hippodrome is backed by the Governor and his Secretary of the Exchequer, Juan Carlos Puig. The project in the Senate is in response to the bill presented by the Opposition to establish a video lottery system, which essentially would regulate the machines that now operate illegally in cafes, restaurants and bars. The bill was withdrawn on 30 May after it caused intense opposition from, amongst others, casino operators.
A video lottery system was estimated to bring in some US$220 million and balance the next budget. The illegal operators have established a united front to battle against the slot machine ban, which would affect hundreds of businesses. The ban must have the backing of the Lower House of Puerto Rico in order to be considered in Parliament. An estimated 33,500 to 47,500 illegal machines are operating without licences at present, although some counts put the figure at over 100,000. (E-06.22.10)
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