Louisiana Wins Sports Wagering but Opening Day Likely at Least a Year Away

Louisiana Wins Sports Wagering

  • Louisiana voters approve sports wagering in a large majority of the state’s parishes
  • Several questions remain incl. taxation, online wagering, funding, new state regulations
  • Due to legislative sessions, online gaming issue plus other hurdles, one year wait likely

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The good news for supporters of sports wagering in Louisiana is that it won by overwhelming support on November 3rd in most Louisiana parishes in a “local option” referendum. 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.

Backers of the bill said It fell short in only five or ten parishes statewide.

Richard Carbo, a consultant for the group behind the effort, Louisiana Wins, said in a statement:

There are still a lot of votes to be counted, but voters are sending a resounding message on sports wagering. This proposition is on track to outperform the 2018 ballot initiative to include more parishes and a higher percentage of the vote statewide. Very soon, parishes across the state will see the benefits of sports wagering, and we can begin to invest in priorities like infrastructure and education.

The sobering news is likely will take at least a year or perhaps longer for state lawmakers and regulators to put the comprehensive plan into action. Legislators in the state must make several decisions,

Many Key Questions to Answer

Onsite vs. online wagering or likely both. Should Louisiana allow popular online betting through geolocation within the state or require bettors to visit “brick and mortar” sites such as casinos, bars, and restaurants. Especially proven this year at several US states during the Covid-19 pandemic, online wagering has been the overwhelming choice and has produced the largest source of revenue.

Supporters of onsite wagering believe their plan would best assist local LA businesses rather than send a larger share to sports wagering operators including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, etc. The caveat is both companies invested heavily in the November 3 referendum and were key in getting it passed.

Taxation is another key issue on the agenda. The question of how should sports betting be taxed and at what rate?

An issue all states involved with this new issue are facing. Where should revenues be designated?  Should they be assigned to certain popular budget items such as education, public safety, and public health. Or rather go into a trust fund, or perhaps into the state’s general fund? This likely will be both a challenging and contested hurdle for lawmakers to clear.

Another will be the decision on how much of the percentage involving sports wagering goes to local governments and to those casinos, bars, and restaurants should lawmakers favor brick-and-mortar onsite wagering.

An important question will be how this new form of wagering will be regulated and if a new government body should be formed. Currently, Louisiana has the Gaming Control Board, with designated power to regulate all forms of gambling within the state. Sports wagering will require incremental staffing, new expertise, and additional enforcement. Also, extra funding. Will the LA State Police handle enforcement as mandated in other current forms of gaming?

A Year or More Prognosis Likely

Louisiana lawmakers are not expected to reconvene and even discuss plan for these issues until April 2021. From there, the prognosis is it will take at least eight months to a year putting the comprehensive plan into motion. The sure bet is sports betting will be available in most of the state of Louisiana sometime in late 2021. The potential ruling for online wagering means it could be available everywhere within the state at a similar time.

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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