The Louisiana sports betting legislative process to finish what state voters started is under way.
Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee gave a nod of approval to a substitute bill from Rep. John Stefanski for his HB 628, a crucial piece to enact sports betting in Louisiana. The bill became HB 697 with the substitute vote.
In November 2020, 55 of the state’s 64 parishes voted at the ballot box to legalize the practice.
Louisiana sports betting a multi-bill affair
Stefanski’s bill largely covers the fee structure and taxation of LA sports betting. His focus on taxation is because tax policy must originate in the House in Louisiana.
“I do want to get this started. I know how difficult it is to pass a tax and how difficult sports betting is for some,” Stefanski said during the hearing. “There’s no exact science to this, I’m willing to work with all of you.
“I want to make sure our constituents are protected from the standpoint they get what they want and, secondly, I just want it to pass. I just want it to become a reality.”
Stefanski’s bill is part of a trio of bills most likely to pass this session.
The Senate’s responsibility
Senate President Patrick Cortez is taking the main swing at regulating the industry with SB 202.
Sen. Rick Ward is handling appropriations in SB 142.
There are several other Senate bills also looking at regulating the industry.
How bills would lay out LA sports betting
Cortez’s bill gives the state’s 20 riverboat casinos and racetracks LA sports betting licenses. The bill requires a physical sportsbook, but each license also receives two possible mobile skins.
Stefanski’s bill also tackles a lottery component, which essentially gives the Louisiana Lottery a mobile license. That allows local bars and restaurants that participate in lottery games the ability to install sports betting kiosks in Louisiana.
“If you’re a parish that passed this, it’s us trying to find a way to allow locals to participate,” Stefanski said.
Stefanski’s fee and tax structure on sports betting
Stefanski’s bill charges the 20 licenses each a $250,000 application fee. A $500,000 license fee then covers them for five years.
The bill levies a 10% tax on bets placed physically at sportsbooks. It places an 18% tax on mobile bets.
Stefanski said $10 million to $20 million annually is a reasonable expectation for Louisiana sports betting revenue.
“The big kicker is mobile, it’s a big revenue raiser,” he said. “It is kind of hard to compare what it’ll do. Mississippi has mobile, but you need to be on the gaming floor. If we pass full mobile, I think it will be on the higher end of the spectrum.”
Does a drawn-out process await?
In 2018, voters in 47 of the state’s 64 parishes approved daily fantasy sports.
That launch was delayed in part because a taxation bill failed in 2019. Stefanski led the DFS tax bill effort that passed in 2020.
The launch of DFS was further delayed by the Gaming Control Board. The state opened applications for operators in February, more than two years after voter approval.