Louisiana Sports Betting Start Might Not Be Delayed After All

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Louisiana sports betting

A fall launch for Louisiana sports betting is still in play despite worries the lack of a Gaming Control Board chair could cause delays.

Christopher Hebert, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Gaming Division Director, spoke Tuesday at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference in Chicago about reports of doubts from Louisiana politicians.

“There was a narrative that sports betting would be delayed because we’re operating without a chairman. I hope someone here quotes this: that is absolutely not the case,” Hebert said during a panel titled, “Gaming’s Awkward Stage: How to Regulate a Mature Industry that is Still Emerging.”

“The board’s day-to-day operations have not, and will not, cease. We have operated three times in the past without a chairman. There are things in place … our vice chairman is authorized to memorialize decisions of the board.”

Hard at work for Louisiana sports betting

Hebert said the Gaming Control Board, which the attorney general’s office counsels, is working on rules with the goal to still launch LA sports betting sometime this fall, as legislators hoped when passing the legislation.

He said there are weekly meetings to work on the rules.

“We are working hard to get this done,” he said.

There will likely be a day or two of stakeholder meetings later this month or the beginning of August, he said. If the board completes the rules this fall, an emergency declaration on the legislation allows for temporary certificates of authority to launch online LA sports betting.

Louisiana sports betting stakeholders worried

Talk of the delay emerged when Senate President Patrick Page Cortez told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, “the board can’t promulgate the rules” without a chair. Casino Association of Louisiana Executive Director Wade Duty told The Advocate there would be a “fork in the road.”

Former Gaming Control Board Chair Mike Noel resigned on June 9, reportedly because of concerns around his Senate confirmation chances and an incident during his time as Louisiana State Police Chief of Staff.

The Daily Advertiser reported the appointment of Noel’s successor is coming “sooner rather than later.”

No detour needed

Hebert’s confidence backs up the hopes of legislators who sponsored sports betting legislation, including Cortez, who want sports betting up and running by fall to capture the massive football sports betting season.

Legislators passed three bills to enact the wishes of voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes this session. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed all three, which went into effect July 1.

The bills legalize sports betting in LA, and allocate licenses to each of the 20 casinos and racinos in the state, including two online skins each. The Louisiana Lottery also receives a license for online and kiosks in bars and restaurants.

Faster pace than DFS

During the panel, Hebert chatted about challenges in the legislation and regulation of gaming in Louisiana.

He spent a portion talking about the delay of daily fantasy sports, which voters passed in 2018 and has yet to launch. He noted the first applicant, DraftKings, will be in front of the Louisiana Gaming Commission on Thursday and could launch this fall.

“That to me shows we need to look both legislatively and regulatorily at some of our laws and create efficiencies so our process doesn’t take so long,” Hebert said.