The Puerto Rico Senate has passed its Tax Reform bill which will channel revenue from gaming towards a trust for funding for police retirement. The police pension trust will draw revenue from the licensing and regulation of 45,000 gaming machines that are currently located in convenience stores outside casinos.
According to Finance Committee chairwoman Migdalia Padilla, slot machine revenue will be split 45 per cent to municipalities, 50 per cent to fund the police retirement trust and five per cent to the country’s tourism department.
But at recent hearings on the bill the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, citing government figures contained in a Spectrum Gaming Group study, had warned that legalizing slot machines would have a negative impact on tourism and the University of Puerto Rico, largely because it would affect casino revenue, up to $35m of which goes to the university.
The study also cautioned that legalizing 30,000 slot machines would create a loss of between $149.1m and $194.6m, with the general fund and the tourism seeing a shortfall of $32.5m to $42.5m.
The Senate remains unmoved by such arguments, however, saying that revenue for the municipalities and the police is the chief priority when it comes to allocating the money raised via gaming machines.