Lawmakers in Louisiana on Tuesday continued preparations for the possibility of legal sports wagering within its borders.
The State Senate Judiciary B Committee approved a bill (SB 266) that would allow sports wagering at Louisiana gaming facilities, including some bars and restaurants, if the United States Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the current federal law banning sports wagering — and voters agree.
The high court is expected to rule in the next two months on the legality of the current federal law — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) — that effectively bans single-team sports betting in every state expect Nevada. Favorable action by the Supreme Court in Murphy v NCAA, coupled with passage of such a bill by the Legislature, would then put the issue before Louisiana voters on the November 6 ballot on a parish-by-parish basis, as required by the state Constitution for measures that would expand gambling in the state.
Louisiana Sports Betting Could Get Legalized Via Bill Would Put Sports Wagering As An Authorized Form of Gaming On The November Ballot
In endorsing the need to be ready for sports wagering, Louisiana State Senator Danny Martiny (R-Jefferson Parish) said, per WWL News, “When the Supreme Court rules (on the legalization of Nevada-style sports betting), I can assure you that Mississippi will be up and running in 30 to 45 days – if not sooner – and so will Arkansas.”
Senate Bill 266 would specifically authorize gambling on sports at the Harrah’s New Orleans casino (pictured above), the 15 floating casinos, the four racetrack casinos, the 200 video poker truck stop casinos and the more than 1,000 bars and restaurants with video poker machines. The bill states, “license holders shall remain subject to the licensing and regulatory authority of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and the Louisiana Gaming Control Law.”
There was no verbal objection to the bill in the committee.
Meanwhile, there are three other sports betting bills currently in the Louisiana legislature, including HB 245, which would “authorize additional games and sports betting at eligible live horse racing facilities.”
Elsewhere In Sports Betting Discussions
In Illinois, lawmakers on Tuesday held a Senate hearing to consider the legalization of sports betting statewide. During the hearing, legislators examined what platforms might be used, what state regulations would be put in place, and a potential taxation rate of 10 percent on sports wagering revenue.
Eilers and Krejcik Gaming LLC, a gaming analysis firm based in Las Vegas with representation at the hearing, estimates that a potential $680 million might be bet annually in Illinois, through both land and mobile sites.
The Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems is formally opposing sports betting in the state, contending “nearly 10 percent of high school students are gambling online, and more than 40 percent are gambling in any form.”
Tom Swoik, a lobbyist with the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, said his organization supports allowing sports betting to make up for business lost to video gambling in bars and restaurants. But he warns the tax rates in the existing state proposal are too high.
In sounding the alarm to lawmakers over unrealistic tax expectations, Swoik said, “If the taxes and these fees that are paid to operate sports books are so high, then the payouts can’t be as high as sometimes what’s being paid out in illegal betting. People are still going to continue to do the illegal betting because they can get a higher payout.”