Lengthy Louisiana DFS Saga Nears End WIth DraftKings License

Written By Pat Evans on July 19, 2021
Louisiana DFS

Louisiana DFS has its first operator as the LA Gaming Control Board approved DraftKings last week.

The DraftKings approval wraps up a long Louisiana daily fantasy sports process that started in 2018 when voters in 47 of the state’s 64 parishes voted to approve it. The license is for three years.

“As DraftKings continues our nationwide expansion, we welcome Louisiana to the DraftKings family, an area rich with culture, heritage, and die-hard fanbases in both professional and college sports,” DraftKings Co-Founder and President Matt Kalish said in a statement. “The Bayou will now have access to our world-leading Daily Fantasy Sports product as we ramp up toward the kickoff of football season.”

DraftKings Sportsbook could also launch this fall for sports betting in Louisiana.

DraftKings losses receive mention

During a presentation to the board, Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division Audit Director Jeff Traylor noted consistent DraftKings operating losses.

He also mentioned the company’s expectation to be profitable by 2024, a strong balance sheet, and well-performing stock, Traylor said the lack of brick-and-mortar investment puts minimal risk to the state.

Traylor said DraftKings expects to generate $15.5 million in net revenue from Louisiana DFS during the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Long process for Louisiana DFS

FanDuel also spent heavily to legalize DFS in Louisiana in the successful 2018 campaign. Despite voter approval, the state legislative and regulatory process dragged out for nearly three years.

An effort to establish the tax rates in the 2019 Legislature failed, as it became attached to an unsuccessful sports betting effort. A DFS tax bill passed in 2020.

The state opened license applications in February. Now, DraftKings is a licensed operator.

LA sports betting not delayed?

Despite previous reports, Louisiana sports betting might not be delayed because the board is working without a chair:

“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,”  Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Gaming Division Director said during a panel at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference in Chicago.

“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.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the enacting legislation in June. Legislative sponsors hope for a fall 2021 launch to capture at least some of the significant football sports betting action.

Rep. John Stefanski, one of the main bill sponsors, believes the state can generate $20 million annually from LA sports betting.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-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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