Nearly two years after Louisiana legalized sports betting, the license reserved for the state lottery continues unused, with no operator in sight.
The Louisiana Lottery ended its push to find a LA sports betting partner earlier this year, a lottery spokesperson said Friday. The license was meant to allow small bars and restaurants to place betting kiosks in their establishments.
With no partner interested in the access point, a Louisiana lawmaker introduced a bill to shift the lottery’s control of the kiosks to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. LGCB Chairman Ronnie Johns, however, said the legislation is already dead in the water.
“We do what the legislature tells us, but there has to be a practical side to making it work and we just don’t think it will work,” Johns said. “It’s a noble thought to give small businesses an opportunity, but if you can’t get [a major platform] to agree than it’s just not a doable deal.”
What happened to lottery license
The Louisiana Lottery went through a request for proposal process after the state legalized sports betting in 2021. The agency did enter a contract with an operator last summer, but a finalized plan never materialized.
The initial operator was BetMGM, according to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Lottery CEO Rose Hudson told the Daily Advertiser BetMGM did not believe the endeavor would be profitable enough to justify.
With nearly 90% of Louisiana wagers placed with mobile sportsbooks, Johns said Hudson told him the economics did not work, and a potential lottery partner remains a dead issue.
Lottery struggle in other US markets
Multiple US sports betting states have also included lotteries in their regulatory framework. In states where the lottery does not hold a monopoly, the operations struggle to match the performance of commercial sports betting entities.
In Connecticut, Rush Street Interactive recently pulled out of its partnership with the CT Lottery, and the agency opened up bidding for its license. As one of three licenses in Connecticut, RSI is a distant third in market share.
Sports betting bill amendment also dead
House Bill 556 was filed in March and would amend the original 2021 legislation to give the transfer of the retail kiosk control to the LGCB.
Johns said he met with Senate leadership, and the legislation is not a workable deal. He said he believes it will not even be heard in committee.
“It just doesn’t work. I can’t contract with someone I regulate,” Johns said. “That, in essence, is what that would require us to do.”
Louisiana sports betting continues growth
Eight of the possible 20 licenses are in use, and Johns said there remains little action with the remaining licenses. Betway does expect to launch in Louisiana sometime this year.
“We didn’t see the number of operators wanting to come in that we thought we would,” Johns said. “But sports betting continues to still grow popular down here.”