Louisiana Sports Betting Bills Finally Ready To See Legislative Action

Posted on April 6, 2021

Louisiana sports betting is on its way eventually and state legislators are beginning work on how it will look.

There are seven LA sports betting bills prefiled in the Louisiana House and Senate for the session that starts Monday.

Two of the bills, SB 195 and SB 202, outline proposed betting regulations. Both will start the session in the Senate Judiciary B Committee.

Both bills limit wagering to the 55 parishes that approved sports wagering at the ballot box in November 2020.

SB 202 proposal for sports betting in LA

A bipartisan trio of senators is sponsoring SB 202. The bill provides for a license to the Louisiana Lottery, branded as such, for online wagering and at wagering machines.

Beyond the lottery, there would be no more than 20 licenses. Preference would go to:

  • 15 licensed riverboats
  • Four live horse racing tracks
  • One land-based casino

Leftover licenses would then be available to:

  • Video poker licensed establishments
  • Fantasy sports operators

A concealed bid process will be held for the licenses if applications exceed the amount available.

The license holders can operate themselves or contract out. License holders can partner with up to two skins.

More unusual language includes a provision that at least 10% of all wagers are to be held by an operator at a Louisiana-chartered bank.

Retail sportsbooks will be important

Sportsbook designs will play into who receives licenses:

“Proposed law provides that except for the Louisiana Lottery Corporation, each applicant shall submit as part of its application a detailed plan of design of its sports book lounge and other areas of its establishments where sports wagering mechanisms may be placed. Requires the board to only award a license to an applicant whose detailed plan of design the board finds acceptable.”

The bill requires in-person registration prior to online betting.

Retail establishments with “Class A” permits can also be eligible to host wagering mechanisms. Those would not include, among others:

  • Convenience stores, quick stops, or food marts
  • Service stations
  • Movie theaters

SB 195 strays from other Louisiana bill

Sen. Cameron Henry is sponsoring SB 195, which limits the licenses to 20, without the Lottery.

The bill allows 15 riverboat casinos, four race tracks, and the state’s land-based casino to apply for a license. Licensees can partner with up to three “branded websites which can have an accompanying mobile application bearing the same brand as the website.”

Retail establishments with “Class A” could also be permitted “to enter an agreement with an operator or sports wagering service provider or distributor to host a sports wagering mechanism and mobile wagering.”

Bets could only be placed on-premise of the licensee or at a permitted retail establishment, and the bill includes geofence language.

Other Louisiana sports betting proposals

HB 628 applies a tax structure and adds gaming suppliers to the state’s current gaming permit language.

Among the fees:

  • Sports wagering license: $1 million initial application fee with a five-year license for $500,000
  • Platform provider permit: $100,000 initial application fee with a five-year license fee of $50,000
  • Service provider permit: $50,000 initial application with fiver year fee of $25,000
  • Distributor permit: $5,000 initial application with a five-year fee of $2,500

Beyond the permits, HB 628 sets up a tax system:

  • 15% tax on bets at licensed wagering establishment
  • 30% tax on bets through mobile apps
  • 40% tax on bets through the Louisiana Lottery

SB 121 authorizes parishes to levy an excise tax on sports wagers geographically located in the parish. The per-transaction tax would have a $5 cap.

Louisiana sports betting landscape

The state is home to more than 4.6 million people. That’s approximately 800,000 fewer than Colorado, which recorded $266.5 million in February handle.

Nearly all of Colorado’s bets are placed online. Louisiana’s neighbor, Mississippi, has only retail betting and recorded a $47.8 million handle in February with a population of nearly 3 million.

The Louisiana Wins campaign last fall estimated between $237 million and $332 million in annual operator revenue, including a mobile market. Caesars, Boyd Gaming, DraftKings, FanDuel and Penn National were among contributors to the Louisiana Wins campaign.

New Orleans has two professional sports teams, the NBA‘s New Orleans Pelicans and the NFL‘s New Orleans Saints. Additionally, the state is home to NCAA football powerhouse LSU.

Houston, with its population of 7 million, is a short drive from several Louisiana casinos.

Sportsbook operator presence in Louisiana

In March, news emerged Caesars is reportedly close to a $200 million, 20-year deal for the naming rights to the Saints’ home field, the Superdome. Caesars operates the state’s lone land-based commercial casino, Harrah’s in New Orleans.

Riverboat casinos and racinos operators include:

  • Boyd
  • Caesars
  • Penn National
  • Bally’s Corp.
  • Churchill Downs Inc.
  • Golden Nugget
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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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