Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Advances To Full Senate Vote

BATON ROUGE, La. – Earlier this week, sports betting in Louisiana took one step closer to becoming a reality. Louisiana Senate bill LA SB 153 was passed by the legislative chamber’s Judiciary Committee and it will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The bill, introduced by Louisiana Senator Danny Martiny, would effectively allow the state’s four racetracks, 15 riverboat casinos, and the Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, to apply for a sports betting license and offer the additional type of gaming only within their facilities.

Although, before they can even apply, local parishes would have to vote on whether or not they want sports wagering to take place in their town. That vote would potentially occur in October of 2019, meaning the soonest Louisiana could see active sportsbooks is January 1, 2020.

The companion bill to Martiny’s proposal is Louisiana House Bill LA HB 587, sponsored by House Rep. Joseph Marino. The bill would lay the foundation for the financial stipulations that would be applied to sports wagering.

Under the current form of that measure, operators would have to pay an annual fee of $50,000 along with a permit fee of $100,000 every five years. There would also be a 12% tax applied to sports betting revenue and the proceeds will go primarily to early childhood development programs.

“I believe it’s important that we recognize and prioritize our commitment to early childhood education. That’s why my bill, in its present form, coupled up with a house bill that Rep. Marino has filed would do that,” said Martiny.

However, Martiny’s bill did not pass unanimously in the Senate Committee. During the vote, Louisiana Senator Karen Carter Peterson voted against the measure because she is currently battling a gambling addiction herself.

“There are families that get destroyed, and I am well aware of that. I’m glad that mine has not because of the support system that I have in place, but everybody doesn’t have that,” said Peterson.

Gambling addiction is also a primary reason as to why not every parish voted to legalize daily fantasy sports when given the chance last year.

In order to combat this issue, this year’s sports betting bills would dedicate $100,000 annually to problem gambling centers.

The bills would also restrict sports betting in Louisiana to those 21 and up and would not allow betting on high school sports, video game and electronic sports, or through a state-wide mobile app.

Whether or not that will be enough to sway members on the Senate floor will be determined later this week. But, the Louisiana legislative session is officially set to adjourn on June 6, 2019.

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