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Republican State Senator Danny Martiny’s proposed measure to bring sports betting to voters for approval has been voted down in the House Appropriations Committee.
The Committee voted down the bill by the count of 14-6, effectively ending any legitimate chance that the legislation had to be passed during this current legislative session.
The bill’s demise is slightly surprising after the state’s senate had already approved a bill that would bring sports betting to the state’s 16 casinos and four racetracks.
But the Louisiana House had packed the bill with “poison pill” amendments that ultimately caused its demise with the Appropriations Committee.
Once the amendments were tacked onto the new version of the bill, the state’s casinos had pulled their support for the revised measure.
Once the measure did not pass out of committee, a last-ditch effort to bypass the committee and bring the legislation to the House floor also failed later in the day.
Needing 53 votes to skip the Appropriations Committee, the House voted 48 for and 41 against moving the measure to the floor for debate. The proposal fell five votes short in the end.
On Tuesday, opponents to the Louisiana sports betting bill found a simple way to kill the legislation for the current session.
Introducing several “poison pill” amendments, lawmakers that opposed bringing wagering to the state were able to effectively end its chances of passing the House.
The first amendment would have expanded sports betting beyond the casinos and horse tracks and included legal wagering at more than 2,800 video poker locations.
By expanding to that many locations, the casinos would have lost their monopoly on sports betting and heavily diluted their share of the market.
But that wasn’t the only amendment that drove the casino industry in the state to pull their support.
Opponents of the bill also included the dreaded mandatory use of “official league data,” otherwise known as integrity fees.
Rejected by all states that have legalized sports betting, aside from Tennessee, integrity fees kick back a small percentage of revenue to leagues for the use of their official results from contests.
The casinos rejected both amendments citing the burdensome tax that an integrity fee would place on operators coupled with the watered down market.
“You would be asking us to pay the second highest tax in the nation (for sports betting) for the worst product in the nation,” said Wade Duty, representative of the casino association in Louisiana.
The possibility of saving the bill is now a long one after the defeat on Tuesday in the House.
Sen. Martiny has long been a vocal advocate for legalizing betting in the state to combat illegal betting, loss of betting revenue to neighboring Mississippi and online offshore sites.
But even he sees that his bill is on life support now that the casinos have backed out from endorsing the new bill.
The latest rejection is another in a long line of setbacks for the Martiny’s bill.
“It’s happening, it will continue to happen,” Martiny said.
Time will tell if Louisiana can find legislation that brings sports betting to the state, while making everyone happy.
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