The Louisiana House’s criminal justice committee approved a bill yesterday (May 21) that could allow for voters to decide if sports betting will be legal in their parishes during the October election. This bill would allow for betting to be legal inside Louisiana’s casinos, on riverboats and on racetracks. Mobile betting would be permitted within a geofenced area on the gaming floor of 20 specified casino locations. Gamblers would also be required to be at least 21 years of age to place sports bets at those locations.
Although some lawmakers are weary that if such a bill gets passed it could leave the state vulnerable to gambling addictions and bankruptcy, Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, argues their concerns and acknowledges his bill as an expansion of legal gaming, noting that illegal practice is already common through black market bookies. He also notes that people are currently betting on sports in other states or illegally, and it is taking away from the revenue benefits that might be out there for Louisiana if the bill were to pass.
If passed, this bill would allow for Louisiana casinos to be on a more competitive level with the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Indian casinos and the racetracks in Arkansas that are just a short enough distance away for Louisiana residents to place bets at.
Like most other states where legal sports betting is now taking place, the majority of the revenue derived from sports betting in Louisiana would be dedicated early childhood education.
Will 2019 be the year legalized sports betting debuts in Louisiana? Or is it back to the drawing boards? Come October we will have our answers!