Louisiana Sports Betting Prepped For Final Vote

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With a licensing framework approved by state lawmakers last week, the Louisiana House is expected to vote by Friday on a bill to authorize Louisiana sports betting in parishes that approved it last fall. 

Senate Bill 247, sponsored by Senate President Page Cortez of Lafayette, advanced this morning after being approved by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice. The bill would authorize 20 licenses for in-person, online, and mobile sports betting at approved riverboat casinos, racetracks, and land-based casinos, with two mobile skins per license. 

All sports betting would be geofenced within Louisiana parishes that approved sports betting by referendum in Nov. 2020. A majority of the state’s parishes — or 86 percent — voted to allow sports betting last year. 

In addition to the 20 licenses, the Louisiana Lottery will be licensed by the state to operate retail betting through bars and restaurants. 

State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle of East Baton Rouge expressed thanks to the voters in the 55 of 64 parishes that made SB 247 possible. 

“We see what happens when we give it to the voters of the State of Louisiana to make those decisions for those parishes,” she said. “I like what you have done. I think there are only nine parishes that have opted out, and in those 9 parishes, I know that people will be unable to place those bets.” 

Proposed Licensing And Taxation For Louisiana Sports Betting

Licensing and tax provisions for SB 247 are found in House Bill 697, sponsored by Rep. John Stefanski, who represents Acadia and Lafayette. The bill was approved by the legislature on May 20 and has been sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature.

Under HB 697, applicants for one of the 20 licenses will pay a $250,000 application fee. The license fee itself will be $500,000 for five years, and will be renewable. The riverboats, land-based casino, and tracks will have first crack at those licenses under SB 247. 

Any licenses that may be left over would be made available to video poker facilities or fantasy sports operators according to Sen. Rick Ward, a cosponsor of SB 247 whose district covers numerous central Louisiana parishes. 

As for taxes, retail sports bets will be taxed at 10 percent, with bets placed on “electronic devices,” such as mobile phones, taxed at 15 percent. Lottery proceeds tied to sports betting will also be taxed at 10 percent retail and 15 percent for electronic wagers with additional revenue drawn from several fees, including a nonrefundable $100,000 initial application fee and $250,000 permit fee for sports wagering platforms. 

Total state revenues could total at least $60 million a year going forward, sources say, with more modest gains early on. Much of that would likely come through the lottery, which a fiscal note on HB 697 estimates could bring in $12 million a year in gaming tax dollars. 

When Could Louisiana Sportsbooks Launch? 

Cortez said emergency language in SB 247 will allow state regulators at the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to oversee provisional sports betting until a permanent framework is in place. 

The provisional license or permit — called a “temporary certificate of authority” in the bill — could be issued to applicants that have filed an application, paid all fees, and otherwise demonstrated that they meet legal requirements. The temporary certificates would be good for six months, with one 90-day extension allowed. 

Cortez said it’s his hope that Louisiana bettors won’t have to wait too long for sportsbooks to launch. 

“We would hope, it’s our hope, that this would be available to the public sometime before the end of the NFL season,” he told the House committee. “We don’t know that for sure, but that’s what we anticipate.” 

SB 247 now goes to the full House for its consideration. 

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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