The Louisiana House on Thursday approved SB 247, the bill that creates a framework around legal sports betting. As the House amended the bill, it will go back to the Senate for concurrence before Gov. John Bel Edwards receives it. Should Edwards sign off, Louisiana will become the fourth of four states that legalized sports betting via referendum (Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, and South Dakota) in November 2020 to approve its framework.
Lawmakers have said they’re hoping the Louisiana Gaming Commission will be able to launch at least some operators during the upcoming football season.
So far this year, seven U.S. jurisdictions have legalized sports betting: Puerto Rico, Wyoming, Arizona, New York, Florida, Nebraska, and Connecticut. Of those seven, regulators in five are developing proposed rules. In Florida and Connecticut, tribal-state compacts have been sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior for approval and will become operational if or when approved, and published in the Federal Register.
On Thursday, the Louisiana House passed SB 247, 78-15. The bill allows for 20 retail and digital sports betting licenses for existing casinos and horse racetracks across the state. Each licensee would be entitled to two skins, or digital partners, meaning there could be up to 40 mobile/online platforms tethered to brick-and-mortar locations. The Louisiana Lottery will also get an online skin per the legislation.
Most sports betting revenue will be tagged for early childhood education, and lawmakers are hoping wagering will be available later this year. SB 247 passed the Senate on May 19.
Tax bill already on governor’s desk
On Wednesday, the Louisiana Senate approved HB 697, which deals with taxes and fees for sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Senators passed the bill 33-3. Taxes will be set at 10% on revenue derived from in-person wagering and 15% for digital wagering. That bill has already been sent to Edwards for signature.
The final sports betting-related bill left to consider is SB 142, which would send 20% of sports betting revenue to early childhood education and 1% each to a newly created Behavioral Health and Wellness Fund and Sports Wagering Purse Supplemental Fund. Other monies will be directed to state and local governments and used to pay for regulation.
That bill, which on Thursday was sent to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration, should move quickly now that the framework bill has been approved in both chambers. The session is set to adjourn June 10.
Senate Bill 247, which sets up the protocols and oversight for sports betting, passed the Louisiana House Thursday on a vote of 78-to-15. But amendments mean the measure needs to return for the upper chamber to concur with the additional language. #lalege
— Mark Ballard (@MarkBallardCnb) June 3, 2021
The package of amendments added to SB 247 Thursday changed language with relation to wagering on horse racing at Louisiana’s land-based casino in New Orleans. According to Rep. John Stefanski, who authored HB 697, riverboat casinos can already offer betting on horse racing, but the Harrah’s casino near the French Quarter was left out of the original language. There were also some technical changes to the Senate version of the bill.
Debate lasted about 10 minutes, during which Stefanski was asked to clarify the mobile component, as some lawmakers were unclear about whether or not there would be a retail component.
“You can’t bet on a phone unless it’s linked to a casino,” Stefanski said. “It has to be linked to one of the 20 licenses.”
LA will be first in region to offer mobile
Stefanski was also quizzed about why there was a cap on licenses, to which he said, “If you don’t have a cap on the licenses, you could have a casino on every corner.” Those in Louisiana will also be able to bet at some retail establishments via lottery-owned kiosks.
Louisiana would be the first state in its region to offer mobile/online sports betting. Border states Mississippi and Arkansas both offer in-person wagering only. The 2021 Texas legislative session ended on Monday with no action on gaming or sports betting.
In November, voters in 55 of 64 parishes approved legal wagering. There will be no retail or mobile wagering in nine parishes, which will be geofenced.