Ronnie Jones, the head of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, told the Press Club of Baton Rouge Monday that every casino chief executive officer who spoke to a task force on expanded gambling, has urged the state to adopt a sports book bill.
Such a bill failed earlier this year to make it through the Legislature.
Louisiana casinos are expected to be negatively impacted as neighboring Mississippi casinos, especially in Biloxi, only a 90-minute drive from New Orleans, continue to open up now legal sports betting operations.
Jones recounted how he’s heard about Louisiana casino regulars telling casino hosts that they plan on visiting Mississippi over the upcoming Labor Day Weekend because of legal sports betting, instead of staying in a local property.
“We already lose a lot of business to Mississippi. Mississippi casinos already have several advantages over Louisiana properties, such as the fact the gambling halls there don’t have to pay taxes on comped meals and hotel rooms. “We’re competitively disadvantaged and this sports book is just a pile on.”
Jones said he expects the State Legislature will once again take up the issue of sports betting in 2019. He said just how the Legislature might vote next year may be foretold in November, when voters in the state’s individual parishes go to the polls for local referendums on fantasy sports wagering.
Jones said that rules allowing riverboat casinos to move onto land will be in place by the end of the 2018, with regulators requiring that new capital investments accompany any relocations.
Regarding the casino migration from water to land, Jones said, "This is about building new resorts with new amenities and gambling."
He added, "We're gambling fools in Louisiana, we've always gambled even when it wasn't legal," he said. "As long as there is a business opportunity, casinos will be here."