Louisiana Ramps Up Again for Sports Wagering Decision on Upcoming November Ballot

Louisiana Sports Wagering Decision

  • Louisiana tries again isolating voters on November 3rd, targeting sports betting as the sole objective
  • Many details to be worked upon going forward pending a “Yes” vote
  • Studies have estimated as much as $330M in taxable revenue could be achieved in Year One

Not fearing defeat, and for the second time in two years, voters in all 64 Louisiana parishes will decide individually whether to authorize a new form of sports betting. The motive echoes similar legislative efforts being conducted in other US states on November 3rd.

In 2018, voters in 47 of 64 parishes voted to legalize online sports fantasy games for cash prizes, including in East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, and Orleans parishes. During this time, parish voters are being asked whether they want to legalize sports betting on football games and other contests, with the results expected to follow the geographic breakdown from two years ago.

The proposal is separate from the seven constitutional amendments also on the Nov. 3 Louisiana state ballot.

Governor Put Plan Into Action in June

Originally, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 130 on June 11 to become Act No. 215. It would be on the ballot for all voters to question legalizing sports wagering (Yes or No). If approved by LA voters, the state legislature would still need to set up regulations and a tax rate. The act also allows considering mobile sports betting. Achieving regulations and getting a tax rate in place for Daily Fantasy Sports has taken almost two years it was last approved by voters in 47 state parishes in 2018.

By acting upon this bill, Louisiana becomes the third state to have a sports betting question on the November 2020 ballot. It joins South Dakota and Maryland. California has also trying to fervently place sports betting referendum on the ballot. It would then legalize sports betting at the tribal casinos and horse tracks within the state. Efforts to add sports wagering to a ballot measure in Oklahoma have seemed to be defeated for now due to Native American tribal disputes within the state.

Many Details to Be Worked Out

Proponents of a “yes vote” believe a change would mean new jobs, dollars for state services, and capture revenue now going to nearby Mississippi and other nearby states that allow sports wagering in casinos.

“This is a revenue-generator,” said state Sen. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, and sponsor of the new 2020 legislation that resulted in the ballot measure. “Everybody is struggling with the sales tax,” Henry noted, a reference to the sharp decline in government receipts because of the coronavirus pandemic. “This would obviously be an addition to anything they would normally receive.”

But parishes that approve the sports wagering measure on election day will still not be open to additional gambling until at least 2022. The legislature would have to decide upon rules on how individual sports gambling would be taxed and specifically what form it should take. Questions include whether wagering would be limited to casinos as is done in Mississippi or allow for betting online, including smartphone access.

Henry seemed focused on that option by adding “If we focus strictly on a bricks-and-mortar system that will not be as beneficial to the state as if we move to more of an online model,”

It was estimated that retail and digital gambling companies could net $330 million per year in Louisiana, according to a report by a gambling consultant cited in an analysis of the proposal by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

“We’re losing out on more than $330 million in taxable revenue while states next door like Arkansas and Mississippi use sports wagering revenues for education and infrastructure,” said Richard Carbo, an official with Louisiana Wins, the group helping to lead the push.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

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.

Email: larry.gibbs@wsn.com