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Louisiana Makes Progress in Sports Betting

House of chambers in Louisiana State Capitol

Voters in the state of Louisiana approved a sports betting referendum last November, which prompted lawmakers to focus on the industry in 2021. Things have moved much slower than anticipated in the state, but legal sports betting is still on the radar.

Lawmakers in the state have attempted to push sports betting bills through, but there hasn’t been much progress made until recently. The Senate is set to end its session on June 10, and a bill has finally advanced to a second step.

It is actually a bill from the House of Representatives that is making a move in the state, and it is one that is sponsored by John Stefanski. HB 697 was approved by a 32-4 vote in the Senate, and it allows for the Louisiana Lottery to offer sports betting and also sets the tax rate. 

This bill will now head back to the House, but it is not the only piece of legislation that is being considered by lawmakers. Senate Bill 142 and Senate Bill 247 are also still on the table, and each could affect the potential sports betting industry in Louisiana.

SB 142 has language that calls for how the sports betting tax revenue would be distributed throughout the state. This bill could be up for an official vote as early as next week after it was pulled off the table recently.

The Louisiana Senate approved SB 247 earlier this week, and it will now head to the House for more consideration. This bill includes language for regulation of the new sports betting industry, but there could be some changes made before it is passed by the House.

According to the bills currently in the legislature, there could be as many as 40 sports betting licenses available if the bill is passed. The 15 casinos and five racinos would each be able to apply for a license, and they would each be offered two skins.

Not a State-wide Law

Even though the Louisiana state legislature has made significant progress on sports betting in recent days, this will not lead to a statewide sports betting industry. Louisiana state laws call for each parish to vote on referendum issues, and only 55 of the 64 parishes approved sports betting.

This is not the first time that an expanded gaming issue has been placed on the ballot, but the results were similar. The legalization and regulation of Daily Fantasy Sports was on the ballots in 2018, and it was also not a statewide approval.

Even though a majority of parishes did approve of DFS on that ballot referendum, that industry has not yet launched in Louisiana. Lawmakers were unable to agree on rules to regulate that industry for several years, but that has been taken care of in 2021.

Lawmakers have been looking to approve sports betting much quicker, and there has been pressure put on them by residents of the state. If sports betting is ultimately legalized, both industries will likely launch around the same time. 

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