Hurricane Ida Delays Sports Betting’s Start in Louisiana

Posted on: September 9, 2021, 01:57h. 

Last updated on: September 9, 2021, 03:17h.

Any hope of placing a legal sports bet in Louisiana in time for Thursday’s NFL opener was washed away during Hurricane Ida, according to an industry executive.

New Orleans Saints fans
New Orleans Saints fans, known as the Who Dat Nation, cheer during a home game in a previous season. Hurricane Ida forced the Saints to play their home opener this year in Florida. (Image: NBC News)

Wade Duty, the Louisiana Casino Association’s executive director, said the hurricane delayed the issuing of temporary licenses to sport betting operators, according to KTAL-TV.

The Louisiana Gaming Control board last month allowed the state’s casinos and racetracks to file an application for a sports betting license. This created an expectation among sports betting advocates that legal wagering might be authorized in time for the start of football season. 

Collegiate football is already underway.  The NFL opens play tonight in a televised game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and visiting Dallas Cowboys. Tampa Bay is the defending Super Bowl champion. The team is led by 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, the Super Bowl MVP. 

Duty told the television station the hurricane has pushed the sports-betting approval process back about 10 business days. He said temporary licenses could be issued by the end of September.

Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm with 150 mph sustained winds, struck Louisiana on Aug. 29, knocking out electrical power in New Orleans and throughout the region. The storm left a path of death and destruction as it plowed through the Mid-South and made its way to heavily populated states in the Northeast, including New Jersey and New York.

The hurricane forced the New Orleans Saints to move their scheduled home game on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers to Florida.

Casinos in New Orleans and South Louisiana began reopening this week.

Control Board Working on Rules

Former Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones is less optimistic that sports betting will be up and running this month. Jones served as the regulatory agency’s chairman from 2013 until the summer of 2020.  

In August, Jones told KEEL radio the process to license sports betting operators could take several months. Before any legal sports betting can take place, the nine-member Control Board also must establish the rules to regulate and tax the industry.

Jones said he thinks sports betting will be operational in Louisiana by the end of the football season.

This summer, Gov. John Bel Edward (D) signed legislation allowing legal sports betting in the 55 of 64 parishes that approved it last year in a statewide election. 

Under the new law, wagering will be allowed on mobile devices, such as smartphones, and in-person at casino sportsbooks. Sports betting will also be permitted on kiosks inside bars and at restaurants that serve alcohol.

Sports Betting’s Popularity

Louisiana is one of six states where sports betting has been legalized but is not yet operational. 

In 26 states, bettors are legally allowed to wager on live sporting events, according to the American Gaming Association website. Smartphone wagering, which, by far, is the most popular form of sports betting, does not occur in any state that borders Louisiana.

The NFL is the most heavily wagered sport in the country. This year, 45.2 million people, or 18 percent percent of US adults, are expected to bet on professional football games. That is up 36 percent from last year.