Head of Puerto Rico’s Gaming Regulator Resigns amid Scandal

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Head of Puerto Rico’s Gaming Regulator Resigns amid Scandal

Puerto Rico needs a new leader for its gaming regulator, the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission. Orlando Rivera Carrión is packing up his things over concerns he has mismanaged his responsibilities.

Orlando Rivera Carrión
Orlando Rivera Carrión
Orlando Rivera Carrión, soon to be the former head of the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission. He announced his resignation amid an ongoing scandal and FBI investigation. (Image: El Nuevo Día)

The executive director of the Gaming Commission, Orlando Rivera Carrión, resigned from his position yesterday. It’s the result of an ongoing conflict over his leadership, which led to calls that he step down. It’s also due to a lack of confidence on the part of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, for its Spanish acronym).

The DDEC’s Manuel Cidre Miranda confirmed in a written statement that he received Rivera Carrión’s letter of resignation yesterday, which will be effective on May 15. However, because the outgoing boss had accumulated personal days, he is stepping down immediately. Attorney Jaime F. Rivera Emmanuelli will lead the Gaming Commission on an interim basis.

Changing of the Guard

There has been a growing lack of confidence in the former leader on the part of the DDEC over the past few months. This was the result of questionable decisions and trips he made with others under the guise of exploring improvements to the commission’s operations.

As recently as yesterday, Rivera Carrión denied rumors related to requests that he step down. He asserted his departure is his own decision. However, Representative Jose Rivera Madera indicated that the resignation was Rivera Carrión’s only course of action. The government official previously helped launch the investigation that led to Rivera Carrion’s downfall.

Rivera Carrción has lawsuits pending in the courts for the regulations that make the system of gambling machines viable. He faces the scrutiny of popular legislators for official trips he has made, but for which companies vying for position in Puerto Rico’s gaming industry footed the bill.

In the Fiscal Supervision Board (JSF, for its Spanish acronym), Rivera Carrión faces problems, as well. This is due to his decision to implement certain rules before the board approved them, as regulations require.

There have also been accusations against Rivera Carrión related to the fact that he has aligned himself with sectors that he is responsible for supervising. However, he has rejected any accusation of illegality or conflict of interest. He has repeatedly asserted that he was faithful in the performance of his functions and specifically in the granting of betting licenses.

At least since February, the commissioners who make up the Gaming Commission have discussed the withdrawal of confidence in Rivera Carrión.

Puerto Rico Gaming Comes Under Scrutiny

The fallout could, directly and indirectly, cause problems for Puerto Rico’s gambling industry. The scandal puts the industry in the spotlight, which can lead to all types of questions.

Former House Speaker Jose Aponte Hernandez filed a resolution to investigate the state of the gaming industry in Puerto Rico. The investigation covers gambling, horse racing and lottery operations. There are also accusations that the government intervened in an investigation into the Gaming Commission.

House Resolution 720, filed on March 31, wants an analysis of the possible saturation of the sector. It also seeks to explore the distribution of state revenues from different segments of the industry. The Tourism and Cooperative Commission of the Lower House would have 180 days to complete the research.

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