Louisiana Sports Betting Launch Advancing as Timeline Remains Undetermined

Louisiana Sports Betting Launch Advancing as Timeline Remains Undetermined article feature image

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Caesars Superdome

Louisiana officials Thursday reaffirmed they were working “as fast as possible” toward the state’s retail and online sports betting launch, but still could not give a firm deadline.

State officials said at Thursday’s Louisiana Gaming Control Board meeting that eight operators had already applied for sports betting licenses. The operators, which are partnered with the state’s existing gaming entities, are already going through background checks and other key licensing measures.

But the already lengthy process has been further delayed by Hurricane Ida, Board Chair Ronnie Johns said Thursday, as state law enforcement focused on recovery efforts in the storm’s aftermath. Johns said the launch timeline is “the No. 1 question” he’s been asked since taking over as chair last month.

“I know that (Louisiana State Police Major Chuck) McNeal and his entire staff are working overtime to get this up and running,” Johns said. “Hopefully we’re going to have some good news very soon.”

Louisiana Sports Betting License Process

Though Louisiana voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes technically approved sports betting on a 2020 ballot referendum, legal betting has not begun.

The referendum required follow-up legislation to determine licensing requirements, betting eligibility and a host of other key measures. After Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the legislation into law in June, it still required additional regulations under the purview of the gaming control board and its law enforcement division.

Regulators finalized the rulemaking process, then approved “emergency” rules last month. The 20 gaming facilities allowed to partner with online and retail sportsbook operators under the 2021 law are now in the licensing process.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, McNeal said the applicants, which include the state’s 15 riverboat casinos, four horse tracks and lone land-based casino, didn’t have to pass through a full additional licensing beyond what was required to open their respective sportsbooks. McNeal, who serves as command inspector for the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division, said the approval process’s lengthiest component was an internal control check on the sportsbooks, a review that is still ongoing.

Neither McNeal nor any other state official at Thursday’s meeting could give a firm timeline for the expected completion of that review.

Louisiana Sports Betting Details

Each of the 20 retail gaming facilities can have up to two online sportsbooks, or “skins,” apiece. The state lottery is also permitted one online sportsbook, meaning Louisiana bettors could hypothetically have access to 41 total legal online sports betting options.

Louisiana is the first state to approve mobile and retail sports betting on a parish-by-parish (or county-by-county) level. Eligible bettors can wager from a mobile device while in permitted parishes but won’t be able to in those that rejected the 2020 ballot measure.

The vast majority of parishes approved the 2020 referendum, including all those around Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and Louisiana’s other major population centers.

Retail betting is also permitted at each of the 20 gaming facilities. Certain bars and restaurants in approved parishes can also open betting kiosks under the state lottery’s purview.

Officials said Thursday that eight operators had already begun the licensing process, but it appears most if not all eligible facilities will follow suit. It’s unclear which partner online and retail books will open in Louisiana but a handful already have announced market access deals or existing land-based partners. That includes:

Other potential sportsbook entrants include BetRivers, FOX Bet, WynnBet and other market leaders.

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