‘Hiccup’ Could Delay Sports Betting in Louisiana Until After Football Season 

Posted on: June 30, 2021, 01:33h. 

Last updated on: July 10, 2021, 01:36h.

The plan to have sports betting up and running in Louisiana at least in time for the next Super Bowl has hit a snag.

John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) gestures while speaking with reporters in Baton Rouge, the capital city. Edwards is expected to name a new member to the state Gaming Control Board soon. (Image: KATC-TV)

Gaming Control Board Chairman Mike Noel’s resignation on June 9 is “a little bit of a hiccup,” Senate President Page Cortez (R) said this week.

Though Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed legislation in June to allow sports betting in most Louisiana parishes, the nine-member board still must implement rules to regulate the industry. 

”We don’t have a Gaming Control Board chair, and until then, the board can’t promulgate the rules,” Cortez told the Daily Advertiser.

Resignation Bring Fallen Hopes

Cortez and others had hoped bettors would be able to wager legally on live sporting events by football season. Before Noel resigned, however, he told Cortez betting might not be operational until early 2022, perhaps in time for the Super Bowl. The 2022 Super Bowl is on Feb. 13 in Inglewood, Calif.

That could clearly change now,” Cortez told the newspaper.

The governor’s spokesperson, Christina Stephen, told the newspaper this week that Edwards “looks forward to making an appointment sooner rather than later.”

The governor is working to find a commissioner with the right skill and experience to lead during this important time for the gaming industry in Louisiana,” she said.

Edwards has spoken with Sen. Ronnie Johns (R) about the job, the newspaper reported.

“It’s the governor’s call to make, but should he honor me by offering me the position, I would very much like to serve,” the Lake Charles lawmaker said. “I think I’d have a lot to offer because the board needs leadership to make sure the industry is compliant, clean, and pristine during this critical time.”

Troopers Under Investigation

Before resigning in early June, Noel was facing a Senate confirmation hearing that might have led to questions about his role as State Police chief of staff when a Black man died during an arrest, according to the Daily Advertiser. The May 2019 death is under federal investigation. 

Ronald Greene died after state troopers stunned, punched, and dragged him, the Associated Press reported. No troopers have been charged with the death.

At first, the State Police told the man’s relatives he died in a crash after a chase near Monroe in the northern part of the state, according to the Associated Press. The incident happened on a rural road.

In a short statement, the State Police later asserted that troopers struggled with Greene and that he died while being taken to a hospital.

Two years after the incident, the Edwards administration released the body-camera video of the arrest.

The State Police have set up a secret panel to investigate whether troopers in that part of the state are targeting Black motorists for abuse, the Associated Press reported.

Mobile Betting Allowed

During the legislative session that ended June 10, lawmakers approved bills allowing sports betting in the 55 of 64 parishes that voted in favor of it during the last election.  

Sports betting will be allowed in sportsbooks on the state’s 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. Bettors also will be able to make wagers using devices such as smartphones.

In addition, bettors will be permitted to use kiosks in bars and restaurants in placing bets. Geofencing will limit mobile betting to the parishes that approved it.