According to data provided by the Puerto Rico Government Gaming Commission, domestic casinos reported earnings exceeding $355 million, which is equivalent to a 38.89% growth in relation to the fiscal year 2021, when more than $256 million was collected.
The growth doubled the increase recorded in the island's overall economy, which was 14.4% over 2021. The remarkable growth could be due to a stabilization of the industry, after the closures caused by the pandemic, explained Miguel Vega, president of the Casino Committee of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA ).
"The reason revenues have improved is that the casinos have now stabilized and there are not as many restrictions. We had a more consistent year operationally, of course, and we have the challenges of employment, but we have operations with regular schedules, which has allowed us to recover lost ground," Vega said.
The trend is the same that was observed in the United States, where the industry recorded its best quarter, with more than $15 billion, thus surpassing by 2% the previous record of $14 billion in the previous quarter, according to AP.
Meanwhile, in the year 2022 (calendar year, not fiscal year), the gaming industry in Puerto Rico remained in negative territory during the months of May to September, and culminated with a 3.04% drop, compared to last year. However, in October, casinos exponentially recovered their activity and reached 15.14% or $5,251,240 above the same month of 2021.
"In effect, in the month of October, there was a significant increase with respect to previous months. In other words, in May and June, things started to slow down, but in October, they started to pick up again," said Idalynn Ortiz Rivera, communications director of the Casino Commission. Although the Gaming Commission spokeswoman estimated that this year there could be a greater increase, she did not rule out a drop due to the uncertainty of the casino industry on the island.
"This year, based on the average, we could have an increase, but we could also end up with the opposite result," Ortiz Rivera said.
For his part, the president of the Casino Committee assured that the casino industry will end the fiscal year 2023 on positive terms. "We are in positive territory and we definitely expect to finish this fiscal year and next year positively," he stated.
Commission estimates indicate that, in the 17 casinos operating in Puerto Rico, there are around five thousand slot machines, which produce more than $300 million a year and generate more than 3,000 direct jobs.
The Treasury receives more than 50% of the profits generated by the slots, money that is distributed among the General Fund, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and the University of Puerto Rico. In addition, the start of sports betting is expected to contribute around $18 million annually to the Treasury.