Louisiana Sports Betting Regulation Bill Signed Into Law: Sportsbooks Targeting Fall 2021 Launch

Louisiana’s sports betting regulation bill was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. John Bel Edwards, allowing as many as 41 mobile operators to enter the state with the first possibly launching during the 2021 football season.

The bill allows each of the state’s 20 combined casinos and pari-mutuel horse tracks to partner with two online operators apiece. State regulators must still promulgate follow-up rules and license each sportsbook, but officials are hopeful that legal wagering can begin this fall.

The regulatory bill follows a companion taxation bill that Gov. Edwards signed into law earlier this month. The taxation bill permits the state lottery to open an additional mobile sportsbook as well as retail kiosks at hundreds of bars and restaurants across much of the state.

The two bills come after Louisiana voters in 55-of-64 parishes approved legal wagering in their respective jurisdictions on a 2020 ballot measure. Eligible bettors age 21 and up physically within these parishes can place a mobile bet with a licensed operator from their phone or mobile device without having to complete registration in person.

Voters in every parish with a casino or horse track approved the 2020 referendum, allowing all these facilities to open retail sportsbooks on their properties. These parishes including the dozen most highly populated municipalities in the state of Louisiana.

Moreover, each parish that approved the 2020 referendum will also be eligible for the lottery-run betting kiosks, which will act and be regulated similarly to the thousands of video gaming terminals already operating in the state.

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Most major U.S. operators are expected to apply for one of the 41 total online licenses. Those licenses will include major sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, among others.

Caesars, which is rebranding its Harrah’s New Orleans casino under its parent company name, is also expected to open its eponymous online sportsbook and retail companion at the land-based casino. The parent companies behind Barstool Sportsbook, Golden Nugget, TwinSpires and B Connected each operate Louisiana gaming facilities and are also expected to launch their respective sportsbooks.

Louisiana’s sports betting regulatory bill will permit betting on college sports, including the LSU Tigers football team. Industry analysts estimate that college sports betting may make up 15% of total handle, a percentage that could be even higher in college football-crazy Louisiana.

The legislation’s sponsors are hoping that sportsbooks can pass all regulatory approval in order to launch by the start of the fall football season, which is expected to be operators’ most lucrative time of the year.

Mississippi and Arkansas are the only two neighboring states that accept legal sports bets, both of which only do so within physical casino properties. This should grant a leg up for the mobile market in Louisiana; mobile wagering makes up 85% or more of total handle in most other markets.

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Next Steps for Louisiana

Louisiana regulators will now finalize rules for sportsbooks operators, a process that should take a few more months. After final rules are posted, sportsbook operators may apply for licensure and prepare to launch operations.

Lawmakers included provisions in the legislation that will allow casino and horse track operators to earn temporary licenses, which should expedite the licensing process.

It may take months or even years until Louisiana fills its full allotment of mobile operators (New Jersey, which launched sports betting in 2018, has “only” 21 operators currently), but multiple leading operators are expected to go live on or near the go-live date.

Louisiana will be just the third mobile wagering market in the South, after Tennessee and Virginia.

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