Congress on Wednesday gave final passage to legislation that would Kongres Akan Larang Sabung Ayam di Teritorial AS shut down legal cockfights in U.S. territories including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, ending an institution dating from the colonial era that generates millions of dollars each year.
Opponents of the measure approved by the House said it will have a devastating effect on the islands' economies, noting that in Puerto Rico alone the cockfighting industry generates some $18 million a year and employs some 27,000 people.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello traveled to Washington to demand that the island be excluded, but he arrived too late. Legislators unexpectedly moved up the vote and approved the bill, which already passed the Senate.
Cockfighting in Puerto Rico was first officially recognized in 1770, but the practice was banned after the U.S. invaded the island in 1898. It wasn't until 1933 that it was declared an official sport and became known as the "gentleman's sport'' because of its honor-based betting system.