Louisiana State House Votes To Approve Sports Betting Bill

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Louisiana sports betting legislation advanced today in the state House, making a launch in a majority of the state’s parishes possible this fall. 

The 78-15 vote on an amended Louisiana Senate Bill 247 returns the bill to the Senate for agreement in minor House amendments and final passage. Pending final approval by the Senate, Louisiana sports betting will go to Governor John Bel Edwards for his signature on or before the current legislative session ends June 10. 

SB 247, sponsored by Sen. President Page Cortez, would authorize 20 licenses for in-person, online, and mobile sports betting at approved riverboat casinos, racetracks, and land-based casinos, with up to two mobile skins per license. The Louisiana Lottery would be authorized to operate sports betting online, by mobile app, and onsite at approved bars and restaurants under a separate bill. 

Authorization for the lottery sportsbook plus a sports wagering licensing fee and tax framework for SB 247 is found in House Bill 697, which was sent to the governor last week.

An appropriations bill, Louisana Senate Bill 142, directing state revenue from Louisiana sports betting to the state’s general fund passed the Senate on June 2, with a 33-3 vote. It now moves to the House as well. 

The Road Ahead 

Gov. Edwards can either sign the bills into law or veto them once they reach his desk. The governor will have 20 days from the date SB 247 is sent to his office to act on the bill before it automatically becomes law. 

HB 697 was sent to the governor on May 26, and is expected to be acted upon by the governor at any time. 

Cortez has said it’s his hope that Louisiana bettors won’t have to wait too long for sportsbooks to launch once the laws take effect and regulations are implemented by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. 

“We would hope … that this would be available to the public sometime before the end of the NFL season,” Cortez told the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice before it amended and passed SB 247 on to the full House last week.  “We don’t know that for sure, but that’s what we anticipate.” 

How Would Louisiana Sports Betting Work? 

Sports betting authorized via SB 247 would be geofenced within the 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes that approved sports betting by referendum in Nov. 2020. That means the remaining nine parishes would have to travel to a parish where there are sportsbooks if they want to bet legally in-state. 

Up to 15 riverboat casinos, four racetracks, and one land-based casino within the 55 parishes would have first crack at the 20 licenses, each with a $250,000 application fee under the tax-and-fee provisions in HB 697. The license fee itself will be $500,000 for five years, and will be renewable.

Licenses not claimed by casinos and tracks would be made available to video poker sites and fantasy sports operators at the same fees. 

Sports betting through the Louisiana Lottery would be available online, by mobile app, and onsite at approved bars and restaurants. HB 697 leaves it up to the lottery to decide rules and procedure, including types of wagers allowed, internal betting controls, and approval of betting establishments. 

The State Revenue Picture In Brief

Sport bets in the state would be taxed at 10 percent under HB 697, with bets placed remotely taxed at 15 percent. Lottery sports betting proceeds would also be taxed at 10 percent retail and 15 percent for electronic wagers, with other revenue drawn from several fees.

State revenue from sports betting could reach $60 million a year going forward, sources say, with more modest gains early on. A state fiscal note on HB 697 estimates that sports betting could bring in $12 million a year in gaming tax dollars. 

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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