Louisiana sports betting bill reappears

Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Could Ask Voters To Legalize Wagering

Louisiana sports betting

The recently passed daily fantasy sports bill will serve as the model for a new Louisiana sports betting effort.

Alaska aside, the appetite for legal sports betting has touched every corner of the US map, including gambling states in the Deep South. This week, a sports betting bill in Louisiana appeared on the legislative tracker for the second year in a row.

The bill is again sponsored by Sen. Danny Martiny, a vocal proponent of the 2018 efforts to legalize DFS. The parish Martiny represents includes several gambling establishments in Metairie and other suburbs of New Orleans.

With the proposed legislation, Louisiana becomes the 35th US state to consider a sports betting bill this year.

What’s in the LA sports betting bill?

The proposal for Louisiana sports betting (S 153) follows in the footsteps of the DFS legislation, which was seen as a trial run.

Under the terms, the state’s casinos and horse racing tracks could apply to offer sports betting under the oversight of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. Fees and taxes are not codified, but the bill does require a fiscal framework prior to implementation.

Louisiana has 16 licensed casinos and four racetracks, including some in population centers like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Gambling giants Caesars, Golden Nugget, and Penn National Gaming are among those with a presence in the state.

As with DFS, Louisiana voters must first approve sports betting at the parish level. The bill proposes an Oct. 12 vote, and venues in approving parishes could begin applying for licensure as soon as Jan. 1, 2020.

No statewide betting in Louisiana?

The bill includes mobile betting, but the provisions appear limited to on-site wagering. Here’s the relevant language that leaves just a bit of room for interpretation:

Electronic sports wagers shall be placed only in the gaming area of the riverboat, eligible facility, or official gaming establishment as determined by the board.

That being said, lawmakers in some other states have contemplated statewide betting using similar language.

Lawmakers in Rhode Island, for example, navigated around a constitutional prohibition on mobile betting. Legal opinions presented last year seem to have spawned a new RI sports betting law, clarifying that electronic wagering occurs at the server’s location.

New York trying the same approach

Efforts to skirt a similar prohibition in New York also rely on the interpretation that mobile NY sports betting occurs in the server room on casino property.

On its surface, though, this bill aims to keep all wagering inside the walls of tracks and casinos. The so-called Mississippi mobile framework ensures that patrons must visit their local gambling house to place their bets.

Even if mobile betting were permitted outside of Louisiana casinos, it almost certainly wouldn’t be available statewide. Only 47 of the 64 parishes approved DFS, and operators must use geolocation technology to enforce the virtual fence.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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