Louisiana Sports Betting Efforts Continuing To Grow

BATON ROUGE, La. – In a 3-1 decision by the Senate’s Judiciary B Committee, one of the measures that would legalize sports betting in Louisiana has promptly made its way back to the Senate floor.

SB 153 was approved on Tuesday and already scheduled to undergo its second reading, with its minor amendments, on Wednesday at 4 pm.

Under this proposal, those who are 21 and older would be authorized to wager on sporting events, excluding high school games and electronic sports, from a variety of locations within the state. Any of the fifteen riverboat casinos and the one commercial casino in New Orleans (Harrah’s) would be able to host their own sportsbook, in addition to the state’s four horse racing tracks.

Mobile wagering would also be permitted; however, certain restrictions would be put in place that may inhibit any growth of the mobile industry. Like Mississippi, Louisiana planned on only allowing online sports wagers to be processed while on the facility’s grounds. However, Louisiana has taken a further step by restricting wagers outside of the facility’s gaming floor area.

If this bill were to pass, it would first have to seek approval from the residents of the state, who are required by Louisiana law to agree to a taxation implementation or increase. Having the choice on the October ballot would put the timeline for legal Louisiana sports betting to begin around the time of Super Bowl 2020.

The sponsor of the bill, Danny Martiny (R- Metairie), filed a similar bill last year but added a different reason this year as to why this bill should be passed. Set to have a future-determined percentage of the tax help fund essential programs for poverty-stricken youths of the state, there is not much standing in the way for legalization.

It is uncertain how much money will be contributed to Louisiana for legalizing sports betting but Martiny estimates it can range anywhere from $40 – $60 million a year.

"If nothing else, it will stop some of the bleeding that’s going [to] offshore bookies [or] Mississippi and Arkansas.”

The sole vote against SB 153 was from Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D- New Orleans); however, her vote was settled not as a means to stop licensed sportsbooks from operating in the state, but rather a way to voice her opinion of problems gambling.

Peterson has admitted to having a gambling problem and encouraged the lawmakers to think heavily about the situation this bill could put the citizens of the state in. As approved, the bill would also dedicate a future-determined percentage of the tax revenue to assist with this.

Louisiana was one of the last states to have their legislature convene this year. With a June 6 adjournment date, there is plenty of time for lawmakers to figure out the best strategy of implementing legal sports betting in Louisiana.

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