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State legislators took the first major step Tuesday toward sending Louisiana sports betting to the ballot this year.
The Louisiana Senate approved SB 153, a relatively limited sports betting bill restricting wagering to casinos and racetracks, on a 24-15 vote. The bill introduced by Sen. Danny Martiny does not create legal sports betting in Louisiana; rather, it creates a ballot question asking voters to approve wagering.
The bill moves to the House and has time to move there. Louisiana’s legislative session does not end until June 6.
Similar to the daily fantasy sports bill green-lighted in a majority of Louisiana last year, the LA sports betting bill will require parish-by-parish approval. Parishes in Louisiana are similar to counties in other states.
Louisiana’s top gaming regulator told legislators in October that the DFS vote might provide a window into the state’s appetite for sports betting.
“I think a window into how Louisiana people feel about sports betting is going to be revealed … when every parish votes on fantasy sports,” said Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
In the November vote, 47 of the state’s 64 parishes said yes to DFS. Geofencing technology will face the challenge of limiting players on platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel from participating in dark parishes.
The two DFS giants spent $1 million on a targeted ad campaign to push through the November ballot question. Expect them to try to bring the DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook brands to the Pelican State if Louisiana sports betting passes.
If approved, casinos and tracks within agreeing parishes could potentially start sports betting operations by January 2020.
No mobile sports betting would be allowed in Louisiana. An amendment passed Tuesday would create so-called “Mississippi mobile” allowing wagers via mobile device while on casino or track grounds.
Louisiana’s casinos and horse racing tracks could apply for licensure via the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. A tax rate and license fee are not yet specified, but would be required prior to implementation.
Louisiana features 16 casinos and four racetracks, including in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Companies including Penn National, Caesars, and Golden Nugget operate in Louisiana, and all have sportsbooks in casinos in other states.