The Louisiana Senate Tuesday morning rejected a package of House amendments on sports betting bill SB 247, sending the bill to conference committee. As soon as the bill was introduced, Sen. Rich Ward said “at this time we are going to move to reject the amendments and send this into conference so we can finish out the work and make sure everything is in order.”
The Senate voted 36-0 to reject the amendments.
The Louisiana legislative session is set to adjourn June 10, meaning lawmakers have only two days to finish negotiating details of a bill that would set out the framework for legal retail and digital sports betting. Voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes approved sports betting on the November 2020 ballot.
Passage of the bill is critical to getting sports betting up and running in Louisiana. So far, only one of a package of three sports betting bills has gotten to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. He signed HB 697 Friday, 10 days after the legislature sent it to him. That bill sets the tax rate at 10% for revenue generated from wagering at brick-and-mortar facilities and 18% for digital platforms.
Betting on horse racing at issue?
It’s unclear exactly what the holdup is on SB 247. Multiple stakeholders were scratching their heads Tuesday morning, unsure why the amended bill wasn’t approved.
The package of House floor amendments included allowing for wagering on horse racing at the Harrah’s land-based casino, Rep. John Stefanski said during House debate last week. Stefanski said the provision to allow for betting on horse racing is already in the bill for riverboat casinos, but that Harrah’s, the only land-based casino in the state, was inadvertently left out. There was also a package of committee amendments.
"We accomplished some big things in Session. We're progressing and having big conversations (NIL, Sports Betting, Marijuana) that we haven't had before in Louisiana." @RepStefanski
— The Jordy Culotta Show (@CulottaShow) June 7, 2021
As it stands, the bill would allow for retail and mobile wagering, and each brick-and-mortar location would be entitled to two skins. The Louisiana Lottery would also be entitled to a skin, meaning the state could theoretically have as many as 41 digital platforms. Brick-and-mortar casinos and horse racetracks could be licensed for in-person sports betting, and lottery vendors could have kiosks offering lottery sports betting products, which means betting could take place at convenience stores, restaurants, or nearly anywhere else there is a lottery kiosk.
The final piece of the sports betting package is SB 142, which explains how sports betting proceeds will be divvied up. That bill passed the Senate on June 2 and was scheduled for debate in the House today. Under the terms of SB 142, 20% of sports betting tax revenue would be earmarked for early childhood education.