The Puerto Rican Association of Hotels and Tourism filed a case against the Department of Treasury in July last year, challenging new regulations that allow video lottery terminals in the country. The Treasury filed for dismissal of the case but this motion was denied by a San Juan court recently.
Back in July, the PRHTA began the battle in court, trying to claim the regulations are illegal and would cause the loss of thousands of jobs in the tourism industry of Puerto Rico. The group is claiming that the new regulations are in violation of several laws as well as a public policy on gaming machines located outside of the casinos. The issue with regulations includes only the legislature having the option to make any changes to gaming laws while the Secretary is limited to the regulation of the operation of the games and is not allowed to authorize new casino games.
The PRHTA is also claiming that the machines do not meet the requirements that are set under Act 10-1989, when it comes to the choice players have to select the combination of numbers or meeting the rules when it comes to the lottery draws of the public.
The group also believes that allowing VLTs to operate on the island would allow an additional option for income without intervention by the legislative branch is in contravention to the provisions of the constitution of Puerto Rico.
With the ruling, Judge Gloria Maynard Salgado stated that the PRHTA did have grounds to challenge the new law based on the exclusive operation of casinos that could be at risk if VLT’s were allowed to operate.
Back in August, it was announced that the Treasury Department would begin the process of tendering VLT’s during the first quarter of this year. The new rules would allow for 20-25,000 machines in the next three years to be legalized. This means that machines that are now operating in venues illegally would be legalized.
It is believed that if the government allows for VLT’s to be legalized, it would be devastating to the casino industry economy. The casino industry has taken a major hit over the years, earning over $300 million back in the mid-2000s while last year the country only earned $272 million from casino gaming.
The fight has been ongoing for some time over the subject of VLT’s and shows no signs of stopping. The PRHTA has plans to continue to lobby against the new law and the case will most likely end in court with a ruling one way or the other.