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Key Louisiana Lawmaker Signals Support For Mobile Sports Betting

A Louisiana legislator says he will propose a measure at the upcoming session to allow sports betting on mobile devices.

State Sen. Page Cortez, center, gestures as he talks with state officials in Baton Rouge, La. Cortez says he will propose legislation setting up the rules for sports betting. (Image: The Maroon)

State Senate President Page Cortez (R) said sports betting could generate $10 million to $20 million in taxes if allowed on mobile devices such as smartphones, according to the Associated Press. Cortez said he will sponsor legislation this spring setting up rules for sports wagering in the state. He said the only “meaningful revenue” will come from mobile sports betting.

In November, voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes approved sports betting within parish boundaries. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the parishes that are home to the largest cities, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge. 

The ballot question did not specify whether sports wagering would be restricted to in-person bets inside casinos, or would be allowed on mobile devices. Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. 

When the Legislature meets April 12 at the Capitol in Baton Rouge, lawmakers will have to determine tax and regulation issues and whether to allow mobile sports betting. With these matters still to be resolved, state officials have said legal sports betting probably won’t take place in Louisiana until 2022. The two-month legislative session ends June 10 this year.

Early Learning Programs 

A recent report from the Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission recommends tax revenue from sports wagering be dedicated to educating children, according to The Center Square website. State Reps. Stephanie Hilferty and Sen. Beth Mizell (both R) cochair the commission.

Cortez said he supports additional spending for early childhood learning, but would prefer not to earmark sports betting revenue for any specific program, according to the Associated Press.

The Spectrum Gaming Group, hired by the Louisiana Economic Development to analyze gaming in the state, recommended mobile wagering as one of the best ways to generate revenue from sports betting, according to The Center Square. The consultants said another way to maximize revenue is to allow wagering on professional and college sports.

If sports wagering is taxed at a “reasonable rate” of 15 percent, the state could collect $35.5 million and $49.8 million a year in gaming tax revenue, the consultants said. 

Sports Betting in Southern States 

As Louisiana legislators prepare to address these issues next month at the Capitol, mobile sports betting also has come up in other states in the region.

In Georgia, legislators this week are expected to decide whether to propose a constitutional amendment allowing mobile sports betting in the state. If approved by two-thirds of the legislators in both chambers, the issue would go before Georgia voters during the next election.

In Arkansas, a lobbying firm representing sports betting companies is seeking a state rule change to allowing mobile sports betting in the state. No action has been taken on this request, according to state officials.

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