As Louisiana sports betting approaches the end of its first full year of action, the market is hitting its stride, according its top regulator.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns told LSR Tuesday that he expects a significant jump in action when the September revenue report is released later this month. It is the first NFL betting season with mobile Louisiana sportsbooks, which launched in late January.
Along with mobile sportsbooks, Johns said permanent retail sportsbooks are opening as well, adding to overall action.
“Reports from the key properties suggest the activity has ramped up significantly as college and NFL kicked in,” Johns said.
Louisiana sports betting exceeds expectations
When Louisiana lawmakers were considering sports betting in spring 2021, they projected approximately $30 million in annual state tax revenue. Through August, Louisiana sportsbooks have contributed $18.3 million in taxes since retail sportsbooks launched in November 2021.
“We’re going to exceed [the projections], I have no doubt, strictly because of the football season,” Johns said. “We caught the last three games of last season with mobile, so we have not had a football season with mobile sports betting.”
Louisiana sportsbooks generated $125.7 million in sports betting revenue on a 9.1% hold through August. Louisianans have wagered $1.4 billion since the debut of sports betting last year, according to the LGCB.
Louisiana sportsbooks joining the fray
Regulators have issued 17 of 20 possible sports betting licenses to the casinos in Louisiana. Each license can use up to two online skins, but casino operators are keeping those close to the vest, Johns said.
PointsBet became the eighth online sportsbook to go live last month. Johns said both Penn Entertainment and Boyd Gaming have kept one online sportsbook for multiple casino property licenses.
Johns also said some of the state’s largest casinos have opened their permanent retail sportsbooks, including the Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah’s New Orleans. Golden Nugget Lake Charles also opened a permanent DraftKings Sportsbook Bar & Grill.
Online sports betting dominating Louisiana handle
While Johns said new retail sportsbooks are drawing strong crowds, particularly at casinos in Lake Charles and Shreveport with guests from Texas, mobile LA sports betting accounts for approximately 80% of the handle.
Johns recently spent time at the new $10 million DraftKings sportsbook at Golden Nugget Lake Charles, where he saw mobile in action.
“I was in there just watching and seeing the activity and the general manager pointed out some guys who were just having some burgers and beers and they were doing all their bets through mobile,” he said. “Even though they’re there, it’s online.”
Louisiana promotional limits working well?
As other states including Colorado and Virginia rethink their promotional deduction rules to help increase tax revenue, Louisiana is continuing on its path with a $5 million per calendar year limit. While PointsBet just launched, the other seven operators largely used up their allotment by the end of August, Johns said.
Johns said the legislature committed to letting it ride for a few years before changing anything.
“There were some early question marks about if it was worth it when we first rolled mobile out,” Johns said. “Is it working? Is it doing what it is supposed to do? I think one of the licensees rolled through it in about 10 days. The legislature is giving it a couple of years of play to analyze if it’s in the right position.”