Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Continues to Advance (May 11)

Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Continues to Advance (May 11) article feature image

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Louisiana Capitol Building

Louisiana lawmakers advanced an online and retail sports betting regulation bill Tuesday in another key step forward for legal wagering in the state.

A Senate judiciary committee passed the bill, which would allow online betting in most Louisiana parishes, without opposition. It could see a vote before the full Senate floor later this month.

Tuesday’s vote comes a day after the House of Representatives passed a companion taxation bill 77-24. Louisiana law requires tax bills to originate in the House and all bills must pass through both chambers with two-thirds supermajorities. Lawmakers in both chambers must also approve identical versions of the regulatory bill before legal wagering can begin, which still likely wouldn’t come until 2022.

These key moves will have bolstered hopes lawmakers will finalize all necessary sports betting legislation before the 2021 regular session adjourns next month. It took lawmakers two years to pass similar daily fantasy legislation; leading DFS providers such as FanDuel and DraftKings aren’t expected to launch until later this year even though Louisiana voters first approved these games in 2018.

Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Details

The regulatory bill would allow the state’s riverboat casinos, horse tracks and lone land-based casino in New Orleans to open retail sportsbooks. Eligible bettors age 21 and up physically located in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes (which covers all major Louisiana metro areas) will be able to digitally register, deposit and wager within those municipalities from their smartphones or other mobile devices.

Republican Senate President Page Cortez sponsors the regulatory bill, giving it political weight in the GOP-controlled legislature. Cortez said Tuesday the latest version comes with extensive collaboration between lawmakers and would-be Louisiana sports betting stakeholders.

Each of the state’s 20 retail gaming facilities could partner with two separate sportsbook brands, or “skins.” The state lottery could also launch a digital sportsbook, bringing 41 potential online sportsbooks to Louisiana, one of the highest caps in the country.

Cortez’s bill would have allowed thousands of convenience stores to take bets, but that language was stripped from the partner taxation legislation in the House. Cortez, taxation bill sponsor Rep. Todd Stefanski and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder are all working on the sports betting legislation, and lawmakers in Tuesday’s Senate committee approved an updated regulatory bill without the convenience store sports betting options.

Louisiana would have been the first state to allow convenience store betting kiosks as well as certain bars and restaurants. Both the taxation and regulatory bill would still permit restaurant betting kiosks.

Louisiana is among a handful of states with legal video lottery terminals, which are in thousands of bars and restaurants throughout much of the state. The video lottery lobby helped delay daily fantasy legalization efforts in 2019 and remains a powerful political force in the state capitol.

Next Steps for Sports Betting in Louisiana

This week’s votes give early momentum in the long legislative process but significant work remains. The aforementioned gaming facilities are still jockeying for the most favorable legislation, which has already gone through significant revisions, including an industry-favorable tax rate cut.

Despite voters’ lopsided sports betting support across most parishes, gambling in any form remains controversial for many lawmakers. That, the competing interests groups and previous DFS implementation struggles are all factors that could impact 2021 sports betting implementation efforts.

Obstacles aside, the necessary follow-up legislation to 2020’s sports betting ballot measure has crossed every hurdle so far. Challenges remain, but supporters – including many of the legislature’s most powerful figures – have early momentum toward passage ahead of next month’s deadline.

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