Louisiana State Senate Approves 2 Sports Betting Bills

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Photo credit: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Louisiana Senate is still working on sports betting bills, pushing two through to the House over the past 24 hours.

The first, SB 130, which was approved 23-9 in the Senate, would send a ballot proposition to voters this November to approve legal sports betting in each parish. If the bill is passed by the House, and the referendum is on the ballot, it will be phrased “Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of ___?”

The second bill, SB 378, was approved Thursday afternoon and highlights a few key distinctions about potential sports betting in Louisiana. The most notable is that it does not include fully-mobile betting, noting that legislators would entertain on-site mobile betting within brick-and-mortar casinos.

As it’s worded, sports betting would look similar to how it is in neighboring state Mississippi — you can bet on your phone, but only if you’re in a casino.

As far as sports go, the bill does allow wagering on college sports and the Olympics, although eSports would not be allowed.

Legislators will have to move fast on these bills, as the Louisiana session ends on June 10.

This is definitely a step forward towards legalized sports betting in Louisiana, although it’s still a ways away and there are many more hurdles. Of note, the state held a similar ballot proposition a couple years ago on daily fantasy sports, and it was not passed in all parishes.

DFS still isn’t legal in the state at all — even within parishes that voted yes — because legislators haven’t been able to agree on regulation and taxation. Similar problems would likely pop up for any and all sports betting bills.

For a timeline, we’re still projecting Louisiana to have sports betting in 2021 at the earliest given the legislative session ends in just a few weeks and the referendum would be on ballots for November 2020. Even if it passes in parishes, it will still take quite some time for legislators to set up regulations and figure out taxes.

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