Ballers Sportsbook Launching in Puerto Rico as First Locally Owned Operator
The first locally owned sportsbook in Puerto Rico is set to open soon after missing its target for opening. Ballers Sportsbook will soon join BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook as online sports betting operators in the unincorporated U.S. territory.
The online sportsbook was supposed to open Friday. However, it missed that goal and will be launching in “a few more days,” as it confirmed on social media over the weekend.
Puerto Rico legalized sports betting in 2019. But it wasn’t until 2022 that the first operator launched, with a BetMGM retail book opening at Casino Del Mar in San Juan. A year later, BetMGM also opened the first online betting platform on the island, followed by Caesars Sportsbook.
Now a third operator has joined the scene, and it is locally owned. Entrepreneur and former financial services sector CEO Daniel de Ontañon is behind Ballers Sportsbook, and he is backed by Puerto Rican sports commentator and sports personality Hector José Torres, also known as DePlaymaker.
“We are proud to be the local sportsbook operator and look forward to offering a unique and tailored experience to our players, full of great content and a true local flavor,” said Ontañon in a press release.
Puerto Rico Aiming High
The island of Puerto Rico has some 3.28 million permanent residents, as well as hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting each year.
That makes it a bigger potential market than sports betting in Iowa, for example. Other states with regulated sports betting and less than 3 million residents include New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and the newly legalized market of Maine sports betting.
The two sportsbooks offered so far in Puerto Rico, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, are both owned by Las Vegas-based operators of Nevada casino venues.
Ballers thinks its locally owned status to the island, and the recruitment of popular José Torres as director of development, could give it an edge on the competition.
Caesars and BetMGM also have retail venues, at which players are required to register before betting online. That’s something which Ballers will not have to deal with.
Last month, Ballers representatives told regulators at the Puerto Rico’s Gaming Commission that it expects a total handle of $170 million and $200 million in bets within a couple of years.
Market Taking Shape
Popular sports for bettors in Puerto Rico include baseball, on which Ballers just missed out on the World Series, as well as boxing and horse race betting.
Bettors must be 18 or over to register for Ballers, and be physically present in Puerto Rico.
All three sportsbooks, including Ballers, have partnered with Canadian location data firm Geocomply to ensure adherence to the second policy.
On the platform side, Ballers Sportsbook has chosen to work with SportRadar for its betting platform odds and backend. Sportradar works with many of the top U.S. sports leagues, including the NHL, and also has a contract with Caesars Sportsbook.
Another operator looking to launch in Puerto Rico is slots maker and lottery provider International Game Technology, through its IGTPlaySports service.
It announced in 2021 it will be partnering with WinIn, a mobile gaming app that has sponsorship deals with various esports organizations, and the Puerto Rico’s main baseball league, Liga de Béisbol Profesional.
That partnership could challenge Ballers’ local credentials. But no meaningful updates have been given on the venture since 2021.