Louisiana Legalizes Daily Fantasy Sports, But There’s a Catch

Posted on: May 10, 2018, 07:08h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2018, 07:21h.

The Louisiana legislature has voted to legalize daily fantasy sports. The State Senate on Wednesday approved the state’s DFS legislation by 21-15, following an overwhelming blessing from the House last month.

Louisiana DFS bill passed by legislature
: A Louisiana DFS bill has been passed by the legislature, but potential hurdles remain for a licensed DFS market. The bill requires a parish-by-parish vote on legalizing the contests and needs additional legislation next year. (Image: Louisiana Digital Media Archive)

But Louisiana DFS fans won’t be able to play with impunity just yet. Voters must decide at a November ballot whether the competitions should become legal within their communities on a parish-by-parish basis. For parishes that vote against DFS, it will remain illegal.

Representative Kirk Talbot (R-River Ridge), who sponsored the bill, said he wanted to bring legally licensed DFS to Louisiana to increase state revenues without raising taxes, but his bill contained no guidance on how to regulate and tax the games.

Under Threat in 2019

That means, once parishes have voted yay or nay, more work will be needed to draw up a framework of regulation and licensing for the contests, a task that will fall to Louisiana’s Gaming Control Board. The legislature will then vote on the framework next year.

This will all take time, and meanwhile it will be up to the future licensed operators’ to monitor whether participants are playing from within an approved parish through geolocation, an onerous responsibility that will likely dissuade many operators from entering the market.

Louisiana’s efforts to legalize DFS in the past have been hindered by heavy lobbying from the video poker industry, which views it as a competitive threat. But lobbyist Alton Ashy recently told the Times-Picayune that the video poker industry had taken its foot off the gas this year because it knew further legislation would need to be passed in 2019, which is when it will really put the pedal to the metal.

Daily fantasy sports could very well remain a fantasy for Louisiana.

Riverboats Sight Land

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the Senate knocked back a bill that would have altered the dynamics of the state’s racinos. Currently floor space is limited to 15,000 square feet, but the bill would have imposed a cap on gambling positions – literally seats in front of slots – at 1,632 instead. Opponents said it amounted to gambling expansion.

A bill that would allow the state’s 15 riverboat casinos to move onto dry land, was passed in the Senate last month and is awaiting a vote in the House. All gaming activities would have to be conducted within 1,200 of the casinos’ licensed berths.

The bill would also remove a statute that requires the permanently static riverboats to have operational paddle wheels.