Voters this election year approved sports betting in the overwhelming majority of Louisiana parishes. In the Bayou State, counties are called parishes.
Residents in 55 of 64 parishes voted in favor of sports betting, according to unofficial results on the Louisiana Secretary of State website. The parish-by-parish vote allows sports wagering within the boundaries of each parish that approved Tuesday’s ballot measure.
Casinos already are legal in Louisiana. This vote allows betting on football games and other athletic events. The vote on Tuesday outpaced the 2018 election in Louisiana allowing fantasy sports games. Two years ago, 47 parishes approved fantasy sports games.
In the larger parishes that are home to several casinos, the vote this year heavily favored sports betting. These include East Baton Rouge Parish, where the measure passed by a margin of 68 percent. The capital city, Baton Rouge, is in this parish.
In Orleans Parish, where the center of metropolitan New Orleans is located, the proposal won by a margin of 76 percent.
In Calcasieu Parish, 61 percent of voters cast favorable ballots. Lake Charles is in Calcasieu Parish. Two powerful hurricanes recently shredded this southwestern part of the state. Sports betting was seen as a potential boost to the casinos in the Lake Charles area.
Sports wagering won’t take place in Louisiana, at least until next year. The Legislature, which meets in the spring, will have to establish regulations, licensing, and a tax structure for sports betting.
In addition, a determination needs to be made on whether sports wagering will be allowed only in casinos, or also on smartphones and other online platforms.
Louisiana Wins, the advocacy group supporting the measure, received campaign contributions from national sports-betting companies DraftKings and FanDuel. Casino companies with resorts in the state also contributed money to Louisiana Wins.
DraftKings and FanDuel donated more than half of the $2.05 million that Louisiana Wins raised in the election, according to Business Report. Penn National Gaming, which has casinos in Louisiana, contributed $334,000.
Gambling opponents criticized the money that came into the state supporting the measure.
Out-of-state conglomerates spent $1 million to convince a battered Louisiana that we can gamble our way out of financial woe,” said Gene Mills, president of Louisiana Family Forum, to The Advocate newspaper.
Louisiana Wins said the state’s residents are spending millions of dollars on legal sports betting next door in Arkansas and Mississippi. The vote Tuesday keeps that money in Louisiana, the group said.
“Very soon, parishes across the state will see the benefits of sports wagering, and we can begin to invest in priorities like infrastructure and education,” Richard Carbo, of Louisiana Wins, said in a statement.
The vote in the Bayou State reflects support nationally this year for sports wagering. Ballot measures also were approved, paving the way for sports betting in Maryland and historic Deadwood, South Dakota.
Sports wagering already is up and running in 19 states. It is legal, but not yet operational in six more, including the three where votes occurred Tuesday. The other three are Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, according to the American Gaming Association website.
Sports betting legislation is pending in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Hawaii.
A 2018 ruling by the US Supreme Court gave states the ability to make their own decisions on sports betting.