Could Louisiana DFS vote be a window into possibility of sports betting?

FanDuel, DraftKings Spend Big To Win On Louisiana DFS, So Will Sports Betting Be Next?

Louisiana DFS

A Louisiana ballot initiative to legalize daily fantasy sports (DFS) passed Tuesday in most parishes, thanks in part to a $1 million ad campaign by DraftKings and FanDuel.

Louisiana DFS will only be legal in parishes that voted “yes”.

Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, told LSR the referendum passed in 47 of the 64 parishes. Jones sees a future for legal sports betting in Louisiana based on the results.

“Virtually every metro area voted in favor,” Jones said. “Those parishes represent about 92 percent of the state’s population and I think that number likely bodes well for any sports betting bill.”

DraftKings, FanDuel run campaign for Louisiana DFS

Fairness for Fantasy Sports in Louisiana, an effort created by FanDuel and DraftKings to back the Louisiana DFS measure, launched October 8. The companies both contributed $500,000 to back it. That money went to TV and radio ads, as well as a direct mail campaign.

Ryan Berni, the political consultant hired by the DFS companies, told The Advocate the results are a major step forward.

“Adults should be able to spend their own money as they see fit, including fantasy sports, setting their own budgets and accepting responsibly for their actions, win or lose,” Berni said.

A few major parishes that voted yes include:

  • Orleans
  • Lafayette
  • East Baton Rouge
  • West Baton Rouge
  • St. Charles
  • St. Tammany

What’s next for Louisiana DFS

Even though a good portion of the state voted in support of DFS, a few hurdles remain before games can be played.

First, a bill to establish tax rates and regulations needs to be introduced. This will most likely happen during the 2019 legislative session, which begins on April 8.

“A model for effective regulation has been vetted and proven in other states,” Berni told LSR. “Given the wide support for this measure, we are hopeful the legislature will move quickly next session so sports fans can start playing games they will love.”

State Representative Kirk Talbot, author of the bill that introduced the parish vote, is expected to lead the charge. Talbot could not be reached for comment.

Geofencing technology will limit DFS to parishes that voted to legalize it. Setting up ring-fencing in a patchwork of counties could prove challenging, as most such technology is enabled contiguously.

What this means for Louisiana sports betting

Jones told Senate lawmakers in October the DFS vote could be a preview on how residents feel about sports betting.

“As I mentioned previously, I believe the local vote on fantasy sports presents a window on how sports betting might be viewed in local areas and I think legislators will take note,” Jones said.

One idea proposed by Jones called for a referendum in parishes that already have casino gaming. There are 20 licensed casinos in that state. According to Jones, only parishes that have casino gaming would need to vote to allow sports betting.

Berni agreed with Jones assessment.

“Obviously sports betting would have to go through an election as well, but this is certainly an indication that there’s a lot of support,” Berni said.

Lawmakers failed to pass a sports betting bill this year but Jones said one or more proposals are a “sure bet” for the spring legislative session.

“It will be a lively and continuous debate, but don’t ask me to set the odds. I’ll be on the sidelines,” Jones said.

Support, oppposition for Louisiana sports betting

Senator Daniel Martiny, a major supporter of sports betting, previously said he plans on introducing a bill next year. It likely will face opposition from the Louisiana Family Forum and Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC), which includes over 1,600 churches.

These groups fought Louisiana DFS and are expected to provide the same hurdles for lawmakers on sports betting.

“[Youngsters] are being exposed to adult content in ways we never would have imagined in 1992 when the internet first started gaining popularity,” Will Hall, director of the Office of Public Policy for the LBC told The Advocate.

Nicholaus Garcia
- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five-year stint in Chicago, where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.