San Juan’s new Prohibition of Consumption (POC) initiative is creating ripples through Puerto Rico’s economy. This policy has been met with widespread apprehension, as stakeholders fear that it may lead to economic regression and employment decline.
The POC’s Effect on Casinos
Casinos in San Juan, that offer table games such as Blackjack, have been central to the growth of employment in the area, contributing significantly to the 381 hospitality workers based in the city. Over the past six years, the casino industry has witnessed a tremendous surge of 150% in staff numbers. However, the newly introduced POC has raised concerns about a potential downturn in this positive trend.
In the lead up to the POC’s implementation, the government of San Juan turned to major stakeholders for their input, including the gambling and live casino industry. The dominant sentiment across the board was worry over the possible economic repercussions of the policy. Despite these apprehensions, the policy was put into effect.
Statistical data from the previous year shows a burgeoning industrial sector in San Juan, with a growth rate of 6% from 2020. The city had approximately 11,300 establishments across various industries. The beverage industry, in particular, showcased a significant growth, with around 1,336 employees working in establishments like bars and lounges across Puerto Rico. Notably, about 381 of these workers were based in San Juan. Over the past six years, the city has seen a staggering 150% increase in employees in these establishments. The new POC, however, threatens to reverse this positive trend.
Stakeholder Concerns and Suggestions
Prior to implementing the POC, San Juan’s government sought feedback from hospitality groups, including ASORE. The consensus among these industry players was concern about the potential economic fallout from the policy. Despite these expressed fears, the city’s government elected to proceed with the POC.
Now, stakeholders have called for the restoration of previous regulations related to alcohol and food sales, as well as further efforts to mitigate potential damage. They’re also recommending additional measures such as increased marketing and promotional activities in order to boost tourism-related revenue.
ASORE had suggested alternative measures to mitigate the economic impact of the POC. This measure was implemented in some areas of Puerto Rico during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the leadership in San Juan seems to have a divergent approach, raising questions about the future impact of the POC on Puerto Rico’s economy.