Louisiana Casinos Apply for Sport-Betting Licenses As Start Date Nears

Posted on: October 10, 2021, 02:36h. 

Last updated on: August 2, 2022, 11:30h.

Across Louisiana, 13 commercial casinos have applied for sports-betting licenses. This could put bettors just weeks away from being able to wager on live athletic events in person at most casino sportsbooks, officials said. 

New Orleans Saints helmets
This image shows New Orleans Saints helmets lined up on shelves. The NFL’s Saints are expected to attract a lot of interest among sports bettors in Louisiana. (Image: Sports Illustrated)

Ronnie Johns, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, has the authority to approve temporary certificates allowing sportsbooks to begin operating inside casinos right away, according to The Advocate newspaper. Mobile wagering — the use of smartphones and computers to place bets — will take longer to get up and running.   

Johns told the newspaper he doubts he’ll have to sign any temporary sportsbooks waivers in the next two weeks. He said he is anticipating licensing recommendations “very soon” from the Louisiana State Police.

The next Control Board meeting is Oct. 21.

The State Police is conducing “suitability studies” on the gambling halls that have applied for sports-betting licenses, according to the newspaper. This procedure was delayed when troopers were assigned to recovery efforts following the destruction from Hurricane Ida in late August. 

Over the years, licenses have been issued to 20 Louisiana casinos offering Las Vegas-style games. These include 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos — horse tracks with slot machines.

Two other properties are licensed, but are not open this year. A riverboat casino damaged during a 2020 hurricane in Lake Charles plans to reopen next year as a land-based resort. 

Another riverboat casino — this one in Bossier City — has been shuttered. The owners plan to transfer that license to a casino project near Slidell, pending a regional public vote in December.

Smartphone Betting Comes Later

This summer, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed legislation allowing sports betting in the 55 of 64 parishes that approved it in a November 2020 statewide vote. Sports betting will be operational after the Control Board gives the green light to casinos that clear the vetting process.

The new law also allows bettors to use mobile devices in wagering on sporting events. Each of the state’s 20 licensed casinos will be allowed to contract with two companies that provide apps and websites for placing smartphone and computer bets.

The approval process will take longer for mobile wagering than for on-site casino sportsbooks. The state’s casinos already were investigated during initial licensing. Now state troopers are making sure the sportsbooks at these casinos are ready to operate according to the law.

The mobile sports-betting companies still need to undergo a full state investigation. Johns recently said he hopes some mobile approvals will occur in a couple of months. 

The law also allows bettors to use kiosks to place bets in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. The Louisiana Lottery Corp. is overseeing the kiosk approval process and hopes to have it completed by January.

Paragon Kicks Off Sports Betting

The first legal sports bet in Louisiana was placed last week in a sportsbook at Paragon Casino Resort. The casino is on tribal land near Marksville, about 90 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, the capital city.

The first legal bet was placed by former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn. Horn’s bet was a long-odds, seven-team parlay. He has to win all seven games on the betting ticket to be paid.

Paragon, owned by Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, is one of five casinos that Native American tribes operate in Louisiana. 

Authorized under a federal compact, these casinos are not regulated by the state and do not pay state taxes. They are allowed to provide casino games that are legal in Louisiana.