Louisiana Sports Betting Approved By Parishes

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Sports betting will be legal in Louisiana after 55 of 64 parishes approved wagering with their respective municipalities.

When – and how – sports betting will be legalized in parishes that approved sports betting will be determined by lawmakers next year. As key details remain undetermined, Louisiana voters have nevertheless taken a critical step toward legal sports betting.

All parishes with at least 125,000 approved legal wagering, most overwhelmingly.

When Will Louisiana Sports Betting Begin?

Sports betting in Louisiana will likely begin sometime in late 2021 or 2022.

The “yes” votes simply allow legal sports wagering to be conducted in each parish that approved it. Lawmakers still need to work out critical details, including tax rates and whether or not to allow online sportsbooks, when they reconvene for the 2021 legislative session.

In parishes with casinos that approved the measure, including Orleans (New Orleans), Caddo (Shreveport) and East Baton Rouge (Baton Rouge), lawmakers will likely permit retail sportsbooks within the gaming facilities. Legislators will also have to determine if online wagering can be permitted in parishes that voted “yes,” a more complex legislative process.

What are the Next Steps for Sports Betting in Louisiana?

Comprehensive sports betting legislation failed each of the past two legislative sessions, partially due to a contingent of conservative lawmakers opposed to any new gaming measures and partially over which entities would be allowed to accept wagers.

Voters in 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes approved a 2018 daily fantasy measure that allowed players in that state to enter DFS contests, but the aforementioned political headwinds helped delay passing the necessary follow-up implementation legislation for two years.

Louisiana has thousands of online video poker terminals at bars and truck stops throughout the state. Some lawmakers pushed legislation that would allow these terminals to accept daily fantasy lineups, a controversial move that helped tank both DFS and sports betting legislation in 2019. Video terminal backers could push for a similar measure when lawmakers take up follow-up sports betting legislation in 2021, which could jeopardize sports betting once again.

Online access could also be controversial. Mobile wagering makes up as much as 90% of handle in mature markets with online betting, but it is less palatable for gaming-skeptic lawmakers who could tolerate a retail sportsbook in an existing casino but would oppose betting from a mobile device.

If mobile betting is approved, Louisiana will also undertake the first online market where some parishes (Louisiana’s equivalent to a county) would have betting but others wouldn’t. Geofencing technology is advanced enough to fence off parishes that rejected sports betting, but it creates another factor lawmakers, regulators and operators will have to deal with before wagering can begin.

All that is on top of the major issues facing all new sports betting markets, including, number of available licenses, tax rates, eligible events to bet upon and a host of other issues. Those logistical obstacles, and Louisiana’s 2021 legislative session’s April start, mean sports betting is, at best, not likely to begin in any parish until the later part of next year.

Was Louisiana Sports Betting Expected?

The parish-by-parish nature of the ballot measure essentially assured some parishes would approve sports betting. As expected, the more heavily populated parishes – and those with brick-and-mortar gaming facilities –approved legal wagering. The sports betting measure largely mirrored the 2018 daily fantasy sports measure.

Gaming remains controversial in much of Louisiana, but it is viewed much more favorably in these more populated areas.  Not surprisingly, the measure saw some of its greatest support in gaming communities where casinos employ thousands of Louisianans throughout the state and are likely to see new jobs as sports betting begins.

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