Louisiana has added a fantasy sports bill to a table full of new gambling proposals.
Rep. Kirk Talbot introduced H 484 this week, aiming to exclude paid-entry fantasy sports from the state’s gambling prohibitions.
Last week, Rep. Major Thibaut submitted a sports betting bill in the House, and Sen. Daniel Martiny followed it up with an online gambling bill in the Senate.
Louisiana’s DFS bill
The DFS bill would create the “Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contests Act” to legalize and regulate paid-entry fantasy sports. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board would have discretion over the specifics of the regulation.
Talbot’s bill “provides for a proposition election to authorize fantasy sports contests in Louisiana.”
State law requires a voter referendum to approve new forms of “gaming, gambling, and wagering.” Although it excludes fantasy sports from the definition of gambling, the bill still includes the requirement for majority voter approval.
Under the proposal, voters would decide the issue on Oct. 12, 2019. If they were to approve DFS, the Board would be required to draft and install the framework for the industry.
If voters were to reject the referendum, DFS would basically stay illegal in the state — and with confirmation from the voters.
DFS under current Louisiana law
Although it embraces land-based gambling at its casinos, the Bayou State strictly prohibits any type of online gaming.
As far as fantasy sports are concerned, the issue dates back to a 1991 attorney general opinion related to fantasy contests run via a 1-900 number. At the time, the AG concluded that such contests violated state laws.
Louisiana reaffirmed the AG’s stance in 1997 with an amendment to its gaming code. The state added “gambling by computer” to the list of offenses, carving out casino games, video poker terminals, horse betting and the lottery. All other forms of computer gambling are still prohibited to this day.
Lawmakers in Louisiana have been trying to legalize paid-entry fantasy sports since at least 2010. A 2015 effort was retracted by the bill’s sponsor, though he argued it had a path to passage.
This reintroduction of DFS legislation comes as part of a renewed effort to bring the state’s gaming industry into the 21st century. A variety of states have passed fantasy sports laws in recent years.