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A ballot measure allowing sports wagering won lopsided approval on Tuesday elections across south Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Lafayette.
Other areas that approved the measure included St. Tammany, Jefferson, Ascension, Livingston, St. Bernard, West Baton Rouge, Plaquemines, St. Charles, and Terrebonne parishes.
Voting in Louisiana is conducted by parishes. The proposal passed by margins of 68% in East Baton Rouge, 67% in Ascension, 60% in Livingston, 76% in Orleans, 67% in St. Tammany, 76% in Jefferson, and 77% in St. Bernard parishes. It fell short in only nine parishes statewide, backers of the sports wagering bill said. Overall, 55 out of the 64 state parishes gained “yes” approval.
The original plan was on the ballot in all 64 Louisiana parishes and with an eventual proposed second stage, all will receive the opportunity to wager on sports. However, the legislation calls for the set-up of a new industry before any potential sports betting can begin, possibly in late 2021 or sometime in 2022.
State Senator David Cameron of Metairie was one of the key authors of the legislation that Gov. Edwards signed back in June. It allowed individual parishes to decide on the sports wagering issue. Cameron declared he wanted to have it up and running by the end of 2021 for the parishes that approved the measure. For that to happen, he said the legislature would have to pass bills in April involving state taxes with plans on how to implement it.
Obviously the language says that you wanted sports wagering in your parish, so we can’t require someone to drive to a neighborhood parish to place bets. That is not going to work. That’s not what they voted on.
The Louisiana Family Forum, who promotes traditional family values, said the campaign was bankrolled by out-of-state operators and sports betting would drain resources from state residents. The group also said the practice preys on minors and gambling addicts while the proposal failed to spell out how parishes that rejected the plan will be shielded.
“Sadly, the Pied Piper orchestrates another alluring melody; for too many, the promised enticements result in unfortunate outcomes,” Gene Mills, president of the group, said in a statement on Tuesday night.
“Tonight’s results on the sports betting proposition are not surprising. Out of state conglomerates spent $1 million to convince a battered Louisiana that we can gamble our way out of financial woe.”
In Louisiana parishes that do not have casinos, restaurants or bars could be an option for sports betting. The head of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, Rocky Rockett, adds that through online methods this could also generate revenue for casinos dealing with Covid-19 restrictions.
“I want everyone to keep in mind, Mississippi has been doing this for a while, generating a lot of good state revenue. Generating some new opportunities for jobs and losing our gaming customers to that market, so hopefully, this will gain our customers back.”
Online gambling could be one of a few sticky issues facing Louisiana next year. Mobile is currently dominating mature markets like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Top online sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook helped support an earlier Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) measure within the state and have each contributed $250,000 to the new sports wagering question. They would be fully behind online wagering as a must to be included for each Louisiana parish that approves the ballot question.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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