In Puerto Rico, the Department Of Treasury has suspended plans to legalize up to 100,000 video lottery terminals (VLTs) until lawsuits brought by The Association Of Slot Machines Owners and The Puerto Rico Hotel And Tourism Association are resolved.
The decision was announced by Victor Pizarro, Internal Revenue Assistant Secretary for the Department Of Treasury, after Robert Johnson from Cage Gaming Company published a letter criticizing the government for failing to respond to a proposal the hopeful VLT operator submitted nearly a year ago.
“Unfortunately for the people of Puerto Rico, the proposal has been before the Puerto Rico Department Of Treasury for nearly one year without a final decision being made to take advantage of this opportunity,” read the letter from Johnson. “I believe the Puerto Rico Department Of Treasury has failed to act in the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico during a time when their economy is in desperate need of revenue and job creation.”
Puerto Rico currently owes around $72 billion to lenders and defaulted on a $174 million debt repayment in January. It is hoped that the VLT legalization supported by Secretary Of State Victor Suarez would see the US territory bring in as much as $400 million a year in taxes from total revenues of around $1 billion.
However, the plan has drawn criticism from the island’s casino operators, which are already suffering from a drop in visitors numbers and have seen total revenues decrease by over 13% since 2008 to $272 million in 2015.
“Today we continue our efforts in defense of the tourism industry in Puerto Rico,” said Miguel Vega, President for The Puerto Rico Hotel And Tourism Association. “Enough damage has been done to the industry and we must put a stop to it. We will fight to the end to defend one of the few industries standing up and working for Puerto Rico with measurable indexes of recovery in benefit of the country’s economic development in these times.”