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Republican Danny Martiny’s bill that would grant parishes in Louisiana the right to approve sports betting has finally passed the Senate after months of debate.
The Senate approved the measure by the vote of 24-15, an expected outcome since the Republicans control the chamber.
Martiny’s bill would allow the state’s 16 casinos, four horse tracks, online websites and mobile devices to take sports bets for residents from approved parishes as long as they are over the age of 21.
The bill echoes a previous measure that passed last year in the state that allowed parishes to vote on bringing daily fantasy sports to their territory.
In November 2018, 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes gave their stamp of approval to allowing daily fantasy sports on sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel to be played in their territories.
Experts believe that the daily fantasy vote is a strong indicator that residents in Louisiana will be receptive to sports betting when the measure comes before them.
If Martiny’s bill makes it way to voters in November, casino and race tracks should be ready to take bets as early as January 2020, in time for the NFL playoffs and upcoming Super Bowl.
Martiny’s bill is hoping to take money away from two areas; illegal gambling and Mississippi.
While arguing the bill to fellow Senators, Sen. Martiny said,
“We get not one penny from the offshore sites. We get not one penny from Mississippi.”
“We get not one penny from the bookies,” he continued.
The need to put a dent in illegal bookmaking has been a rallying cry among lawmakers across America where sports betting bills are being debated.
Another attack that bill sponsors have been trying to dismiss is the fact that more legal gambling means more cases of addiction.
Sen. Martiny was quick to note to lawmakers,
“Like it or not, it’s here. And it’s going to be here whether we legalize it or not.”
A certain factor that will sway some lawmakers’ vote moving forward is the success that neighboring Mississippi is having with sports betting.
Casinos on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi posted their second-highest month ever during the NCAA Tournament-fueled March Madness month.
Bookmakers in the state won close to $8.4 million in sports betting revenue.
But what legislators in Louisiana see is how the economy in Mississippi is stimulated in other ways with sports betting.
“We do know that with those who are sports betting are staying the night, gambling, and eating at our hotel and casino,” said Golden Nugget manager Chett Harrison of the Biloxi, Mississippi location.
The Martiny-sponsored bill now moves to the House where it is expected to pass without much debate.
Unlike other states where the legislative session has ended, Louisiana has until June 6th before they need to make a final decision on the bill.
Even though the Senate and House is dominated by Republicans, Louisiana has a Democratic Governor.
But the state’s Governor, John Bel Edwards, has previously said that he will support any sports betting bill that crosses his desk for approval.
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