The question of whether or not to allow daily fantasy sports in Louisiana is almost in the hands of voters.
A bill from Rep. Kirk Talbot cleared the Senate by a 21-15 vote today, moving it back to the House before heading to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards. The House passed the bill 67-23 last month.
H 484 legalizes paid-entry contests in the state, but it still won’t become law unless the people say so. Like all gaming measures that have been introduced in Louisiana this year, it’s first subject to a parish-by-parish referendum.
There was also a failed attempt to add a provision to legalize sports wagering from Senator Danny Martiny.
Louisiana DFS bill
The Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contests Act removes the state-level prohibition against DFS contests. If the governor approves the bill, each parish will determine for itself whether or not to permit the activity.
Here’s what the bill includes:
- Exempts fantasy sports from the definition of gambling
- Gives oversight to Louisiana Gaming Control Board
- Permits contests based on amateur events
If at least one parish approves, the state’s gaming control board will need to draft the framework for licensing, regulation and taxation.
Louisiana is one of several states where DFS is considered illegal, though lawmakers have been trying to change that since 2016. Operators like DraftKings and FanDuel do not currently serve the state.
Approval needed in each parish
Under the Louisiana constitution, voters have control over issues related to gaming expansion. Here’s the condensed language:
No law authorizing a new form of gaming, gambling, or wagering… shall be… conducted in a parish unless a referendum election… is held in the parish and the proposition is approved by a majority…
While DFS isn’t gambling by definition, it certainly is gaming. As such, it requires one of these referendums. If DFS goes on the ballot on Nov. 6, they’ll be able to decide the issue within their own parish. The question will read like this:
PROPOSITION TO AUTHORIZE FANTASY SPORTS CONTESTS
Shall fantasy sports contests be permitted in the parish of _________________?
YES ( ) NO ( )
If a majority of voters in a given parish vote yes, fantasy sports would be approved in that parish. There are 64 of them in Louisiana, so it’ll be comparable to a vote at the county level. Talbot initially targeted the referendum for 2019, but quick passage appears to allow the issue to make the next ballot.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana legislature has also considered an online gambling bill and a couple sports betting bills this session. Online gambling is dead for the year, and the Senate sports betting effort has been shelved, too. The House bill remains active, and the proposed amendment shows sports gambling is still on lawmakers’ radar.
As with DFS, either of those measures would be subject to a similar referendum if eventually passed. Louisiana legislators adjourn for the year on June 9.