The second bill needed to enact Louisiana sports betting passed the Senate on Thursday, passing on the last day of the legislative session.
Senators passed the main Louisiana sports betting regulatory bill, SB 247. Following a conference committee, the Senate also passed SB 142, which appropriates revenue from sports betting. The bills now head to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who signed HB 697 earlier this week.
The legislation started the session fast before hitting some speed bumps later. Passage of the bill appeared likely, however, as it follows a voter mandate from November 2020.
Bill sponsors are hopeful mobile sports betting will launch sometime during the football season, with retail sportsbooks opening shortly after.
“I’m more optimistic now [that sports betting will launch during football season],” co-sponsor Rep. John Stefanski told LSR last week. “We gave the gaming control board the ability to give provisional licenses, so even if they don’t have a physical sportsbook built, they can go live with a mobile application. It’s very likely.”
Louisiana sports betting regulatory bill
The Senate received SB 247 back from the House with amendments earlier this week. Initially, the amendments were rejected and the bill was slated for a conference committee to iron out the language.
On Thursday, the bill was reconsidered and Senators concurred with House amendments, 33-3. The bill originally passed the Senate, 31-6, on May 19.
“After taking a look at 247 and the amendments put on, we’ll leave it all the same and simply concur,” co-sponsor Senator Rick Ward said.
What’s in Louisiana SB 247
Sponsored by Senate President Patrick Page Cortez, SB 247 is one of two bills needed to enact sports betting in Louisiana. Despite taking until the last day of the session, Cortez’s backing all but guaranteed its passage.
The bill sets out the main regulatory framework for Louisiana sports betting. Largely that means establishing 20 licenses for the state’s casinos and racinos, allowing for both retail and mobile sportsbooks. Each license can operate two skins.
Legislators included language for provisional licenses to launch mobile sports betting before retail sportsbooks are built. Bettors can register online or in person.
Both bills necessary for Louisiana sports betting pass
Like SB 247, HB 697 is necessary to enact sports betting in Louisiana. It lays out the tax and fee structure and provides the Louisiana Lottery with a license.
The bill establishes a 10% tax on retail bets and a 15% tax on mobile bets.
The lottery provision acts as a mobile license but also enables local bars and restaurants to house kiosks for sports betting.
Senate Bill 142 takes its time
Ward’s appropriations bill, SB 142, was introduced early in the session but trailed behind the two necessary bills to enact sports betting in LA.
The House returned the bill to the Senate with amendments on Wednesday. Similar to SB 247, the Senate rejected the amendments. Following a conference committee meeting Thursday, both chambers adopted the committee report.
The bill allocates the money generated by sports betting:
- 25% to the Early Childhood Education Fund, up to $20 million
- 10% to the Sports Wagering Local Allocation Fund
- 2.5% to the Sports Wagering Purse Supplement Fund
- 2% to the Behavioral Health and Wellness Fund, or $500,000, whichever is greater
- 2% to the Disability Affairs Trust Fund, up to $500,000
- The rest goes to the general fund
Making voters happy
Sports betting will be available to the 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes that approved sports betting last fall with more than 60% of the vote.
Legislators acted quicker on sports betting than daily fantasy sports, which voters approved in 2018 and has yet to launch as it took several sessions to iron out legislative details. DFS is expected to launch this fall.
“With fantasy sports, one of our issues was not a lot of people understood what it was,” Stefanski told LSR earlier this session. “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.”