Louisiana is making early moves to get legal sports wagering.
On April 30, the Louisiana state Senate voted to approve SB153 by a 24-15 vote. The bill then moved into the state’s House of Representatives. Louisiana made noise in November by passing a bill that legalized daily fantasy sports in the state. This one will come in a similar fashion.
This fall a voter referendum would be needed in Louisiana, which would use a parish-by-parish approach to legalizing sports gambling.
Louisiana has a slew of local government which includes parishes, cities, towns, villages and special districts and independent school districts.
The state’s parishes are defined by BallotPedia: “Parishes are Louisiana's equivalent to counties in most states. Parishes can have various forms of governments including police jury, parish commission, and consolidated parish/city. These divisions have different sub-types and different rules for petition and establishment.”
This bill, sponsored by Republican Danny Martiny, would allow 16 Louisiana casinos and four horse tracks to take sports bets, from customers 21 or over, in parishes with existing facilities that approve the measure. Mobile betting would be allowed only at the casinos and race tracks that have legal sports betting.
For the fantasy sports bill passed last November, 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes approved, giving way for legal fantasy sports bets on FanDuel and DraftKings.
If the state House approves, betting could be on track for early 2020, in time for the NFL playoffs.
College sports betting will be allowed but the bill bans gambling on high school sports. The NFL’s New Orleans Saints draw a lot of bets but LSU football and men’s basketball have topped them in popularity as of late. A recent LSU poll indicated that the majority of Louisiana residents would favor legal sports wagering in their state.
Among the 16 casinos, Penn National, Golden Nugget and Caesars are all notable brands. New Orleans and Baton Rouge are major cities that will attract a lot of attention from gamblers.
The state House is considering HB587. This bill would build the structure of taxes and fees to be paid by the state’s future sportsbooks. HB587 has not come up for a vote yet.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on April 30 that House Ways and Means Committee chairman Neil Abramson (D-New Orleans) put together his own rough draft of a bill a similar effect.
This tax bill that is going to be required in order for sports betting to go through might have an issue in the state Senate. Louisiana state law says that tax bills need a two-thirds majority for approval. Two more votes than the previous 24 in favor from Tuesday’s meeting would be needed for that to happen.
Another issue that lies ahead is the Louisiana Family Forum, a non-profit organization which opposes legal sports gambling in Louisiana.
A good projection that Martiny has put in SB153 is that part of the sports gambling revenue would be used to treat addicted gamblers.
Based off the fantasy sports bill that passed late last year, this sports betting bill should pass. However, plenty of lawmakers are against it. June 6 is the deadline to make the final verdict on SB153.