Louisiana Voters Likely Getting Sports Wagering Say This Year, No Bets Until at Least 2021

Posted on: May 30, 2020, 03:10h. 

Last updated on: May 30, 2020, 06:35h.

Louisiana voters are likely getting the opportunity to decide the fate of sports betting, with the issue scheduled to appear on November ballots. But it will be 2021 at the earliest before legitimate wagers are accepted in the Pelican State.

Louisiana Sports Betting On Ballot
Louisiana voters appear set to vote on sports wagering, but it could be awhile before they can bet on the Saints and other local teams. (Image: SB Nation)

After sports betting legislation sailed through the Louisiana Senate, the House of Representatives approved a companion bill 71-24 earlier this week. It now heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk for his signature. Edwards, a Democrat, is supportive of the measure.

As Casino.org recently reported, the issue of sports betting won’t be decided on a statewide basis in Louisiana. Rather, voters in each of the state’s 64 parishes will approve or reject it, meaning it could be legal in some parts of the state and forbidden in others.

The legislation allows for operators of the state’s roughly 50 gaming properties, which include commercial and tribal casinos and racetracks, to apply for sports betting permits, assuming the parishes those venues are located in vote in favor of the measure in November.

More Debate Coming

Even if Pelican State voters opt in favor of sports betting later this year, it would be 2021 at the earliest before legitimate bets are placed in the state, and even that could be a rosy assumption.

Policymakers must still debate rules and regulations governing sports betting in the state, and there’s no guarantee that will go according to plan even if voters sign off on legal sports wagering. In 2018, voters in 47 of the state’s parishes opted in favor daily fantasy sports (DFS), but that effort died because politicians could not agree on regulatory terms.

Another issue is that because sports betting would amount to a new tax, Louisiana lawmakers can’t debate it until an odd-numbered year arrives.

Some experts believe that if voters give the green light, policymakers will be able to come to terms on getting sports betting off the ground because the state is in the midst of a revenue shortfall forced by the closure of gaming properties during the coronavirus pandemic. Casinos in Louisiana, the fifth-largest gaming market in the US, reopened on May 18.

DFS Back Again

Separately, the Louisiana Senate on Friday approved another bill, which already passed the House, that would allow residents to engage in DFS for money. Fantasy sports are permitted in the state as long as no money is at stake.

Under the state’s current law, users of live money apps and sites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, could be forced to pay fines or face imprisonment if caught.

There’s speculation that the DFS bill faces an easier go of things this year. It faltered last year because a now-former state senator was upset that sports wagering legislation wasn’t accompanying it.

Assuming the new bill passes, politicians are mandating that DFS companies operating in Louisiana limit the activity to gamblers 21 years old and up, and that violators could be subject to $50,000 fines.