Louisiana Sports Betting Begins With Retail Sportsbook Opening

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Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: A New Orleans Saints helmet is pictured during a game at the Caesars Superdome.

Louisiana’s first legal retail sportsbook took its inaugural bet Wednesday ahead of what could be a dozen more openings in the state over the coming weeks.

Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville accepted the state’s first legal wager at its Betfred sportsbook. Operated by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, the Paragon sportsbook was not subject to the same regulations as the state’s commercial operators, which are still undergoing licensing review.

“As a native Louisianan and Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, I am thrilled to help usher in sports betting to our state,” said Chairman Marshall Pierite in a statement. “This partnership with Betfred Sports promises continued success for Paragon as we continue our mission to provide a first-class gaming destination and vacation experience to our neighbors and guests coming to Central Louisiana.”

The state’s Chitimacha and Coushatta tribes are also positioned to open retail sportsbooks on their respective tribal lands, though neither has publicly announced an opening.

Why Tribal Sportsbook Launched First

Louisiana voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved retail and mobile sports betting as part of a 2020 ballot measure. This referendum, as well as follow-up legislation passed earlier this year, allowed mobile and retail betting in each of the approved parishes but required each commercial operator to pass regulatory approval.

Under federal law, federally recognized gaming tribes are not subject to the same regulations as long as gaming is conducted on tribal lands. The state’s three gaming tribes, as part of existing agreements with the state government, could open retail sportsbooks at their respective properties without further state regulatory approval.

The tribes can allow betting through mobile devices on tribal lands but, unlike the commercial operators, are not permitted statewide online wagering.

The commercial operators are still undertaking that regulatory review process, which has been further delayed by Hurricane Ida. Officials have given no firm timeline for the first retail or online sportsbook launch, but regulators at a meeting last month said they expected the first brick-and-mortar books to be approved in the coming weeks.

Online betting may not come until later in 2021 or early 2022.

Louisiana’s Sports Betting Future

Louisiana’s 2021 sports betting law permits the state’s 15 riverboat casinos, four horse tracks and lone land-based casino to open retail sportsbooks in their respective facilities. Each gaming venue can also offer up to two mobile sports betting skins accessible in each parish that approved the 2020 ballot measure.

Louisiana is the first state to approve mobile sports betting on a county-by-county (or parish-by-parish) basis. Bettors can wager from any approved parish, which includes those around Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and most other population centers.

Most major U.S. operators have expressed interest in the state or have already struck market access deals. Caesars, which operates the land-based casino in New Orleans, has struck groundbreaking sponsorship deals with the Louisiana Superdome as well as the LSU athletic program and is expected to continue marketing aggressively in the state.

FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM, the nation’s three largest sportsbook operators by market share, are also expected to pursue sports betting licenses. Several other high-profile gaming companies with existing brick-and-mortar gaming properties in the state including Penn National (Barstool Sportsbook), Churchill Downs (TwinSpires) and Boyd Gaming (Boyd Sportsbook) are also expected to pursue licensure.

Additional growing operators such as WynnBet, PointsBet and Bally Bet have announced nationwide expansion plans and would seem likely candidates for Louisiana sports betting licenses.

The Louisiana Lottery can also partner with one mobile sportsbook operator. The Lottery, in conjunction with its future sportsbook partner, can open retail betting kiosks at certain bars and restaurants.

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