Court Rules in Favor of PRTC on Illegal Gaming Machines
SAN JUAN— A local judge ruled in favor of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. PRTC in a lawsuit that operators of non-casino gaming machines filed against the government entity, PRTC Executive Director Ingrid Rivera said Tuesday.
The ruling by San Juan District Court Judge Ángel Pagán Ocasio, made last Friday, stressed the illegality of so-called “adult entertainment machines” operating outside of certified casinos, because they are considered a form of gambling.
The machine operators had sued the PRTC after the public corporation confiscated several of the machines in late 2014 through a sting operation in which the Puerto Rico Department of Justice also participated.
“This ruling confirms that the actions of the Tourism Co. were in compliance to its responsibility of opposing illegal gaming, which has greatly affected Puerto Rico’s casino sector,” Rivera said. “The PTC will continue doing its job and go after any businesses that illegally operate gaming machines.”
Act 77 of 2014 gives the PRTC ample regulatory powers regarding noncasino gaming, Rivera indicated.
The proliferation of noncasino gaming has been pegged as one of the main reasons for the closing of several casinos in recent years. The situation in the casino sector has also affected the hotel occupancy tax, which is levied on hotels with casino operations, and out of which the PRTC derives about 80% of its budget.
The tax also backs up several bond issues related to the Puerto Rico Convention Center and the University of Puerto Rico, as well as several financing guarantees totaling about $1.1 billion.