The Puerto Rican Senate is looking to legalise slot machines outside casinos, a move which legislators suggest could raise an additional $100m for the territory’s coffers.
Senate president, Thomas Rivera Schatz, stated that the legislative changes will be included as amendments to the tax reform bill, which is due to go before the House of Representatives – the Legislative Assembly’s lower chamber – for consideration at the beginning of October.
“The machines themselves are legal but they’re not allowed to pay cash prizes and we know that is what’s happening,” said Rivera Schatz, speaking during a press conference.
“What [operators] are seeking is to connect [their machines] to a [central] system so that the government can see the money that is coming in and out of these machines, enabling them to pay tax and contribute to the treasury. That would be an additional source of income which …we do not have at present.”
Rivera Schatz pointed out that the location of these machines would still have to be regulated for within the new amendments, to prevent minors from gaining access to them.
He also contends that the slot machines would not compete with Puerto Rico’s existing casinos as the two sectors cater to different customer demographics.
“Any measure that generates revenue and has sufficient [regulatory] controls to ensure it does not have a negative impact on society deserves our support,” he added. “These business people want to pay tax, they want to contribute, and that is an opportunity which we cannot pass up.”