Sports betting in Louisiana moved another step closer Thursday as the Senate approved the second of a three-bill package.
The Senate passed the already House-approved HB 697, 32-4. The bill is returning to the House with the Senate bills. The Senate did not take action on the sports betting appropriations bill, SB 142, which was subject to call for a final passage Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed the main regulatory bill, SB 247, which is sponsored by Senate President Patrick Page Cortez. Cortez’s bill establishes 20 Louisiana sports betting licenses for existing retail gaming facilities, each permitted to two online skins.
The legislation appears to set up Louisiana sports betting for a launch in time for betting on the NFL this fall. Voters in 55 of Lousiana’s 64 parishes approved sports betting in November 2020.
Quick pace for tax bill
Rep. John Stefanski kicked off the sports betting legislation this session with HB 697. It passed the House on May 10, 77-24.
The bill tackles the fee and tax structure of the industry. It also sets up regulations for the Louisiana Lottery to participate in sports betting.
Both components, taxation and changes to the lottery, require a two-thirds vote by Louisiana law.
Louisiana sports betting fees and taxes
HB 697 levies a 10% tax on retail sports betting in Louisiana and a 15% tax on online sports betting in Louisiana. Stefanski expects the state to generate up to $20 million annually in sports betting revenue.
The bill also establishes the fee structure for Louisiana sports betting companies:
- License: $250,000 initial application, $500,000 five-year license
- Platform provider permit: $100,000 initial application, $250,000 five-year license
- Service provider permit: $10,000 initial application, $12,500 five-year license
- Distributor permit: $5,000 initial application, $2,500 five-year license
The fees are to be deposited into a proposed Sports Wagering Enforcement Fund.
Retail betting in Louisiana
Stefanski previously told LSR it was important to find a way to include retail establishments in sports betting.
The incorporation of the lottery does so by granting it a mobile license that includes kiosk placements in local bars and restaurants.
The state will levy the same tax rate on lottery system bets.
Tax bill stays out of the way
Taxation was a point of delay for daily fantasy sports in Louisiana.
Louisiana voters approved DFS in 2018, but it took two years to pass a tax bill. Stefanski also led that successful effort.
“With fantasy sports, one of our issues was not a lot of people understood what it was,” he told LSR earlier this month. “People understand sports betting. It passed pretty significantly in 55 of 64 parishes. People of Louisiana want it, so we need to make sure it happens.”
What’s next for Louisiana sports betting?
SB 142 takes on the appropriations component of sports betting. As the two primary bills passed, it’s likely Sen. Rick Ward‘s bill will also pass easily.
“Our constituents in the fall of last year, went to the ballot and voted in favor of us doing what we’re here to do today, to simply put in place the rules and regulations necessary to allow for sports wagering,” Ward said while presenting the Cortez bill on Wednesday.
“I went through and looked at all our senate districts, every single senate district voted in favor of this.”
The Senate bills then will need approval by the House.
Assuming passage by the House and receives Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ signature, an amendment in SB 247 changed the legislation’s effective date to July 1 with temporary licenses granted for mobile operation until retail sportsbooks are built. The latter amendment was made “to get through the football season.”