Louisiana Sports Betting Back in the Frame as Mississippi Gleefully Rakes in the Dough

Posted on: October 25, 2018, 01:30h. 

Last updated on: October 25, 2018, 02:45h.

Louisiana is looking jealously over the border at Mississippi’s burgeoning sports betting operations.

Louisiana sports betting
Representative Danny Martiny said that failure to pass Louisiana sports betting legislation has made the state “the laughing stock of the country” and has vowed to redress the situation next year. (Image: The Bayou Brief)

The Pelican State failed to pass a sports betting bill in 2018, just before the Supreme Court rejected the federal law that prohibited state-sanctioned sports books, Meanwhile, Mississippi’s first-mover maneuver has seen it reap dividends.

Outspoken Louisiana State Sen. Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) described the legislature’s failure to move on his sports betting bill in the last session as a “joke” that made Louisiana “the laughing stock of the country,” and vowed he would be back at the next year.

“Even Mississippi’s way ahead on this,” Martiny complained in the same week the federal prohibition was repealed. “So, in our quest to be Number 50 in everything, here’s another one. We can’t fund our necessary services in this state, but we’re making sure gaming doesn’t expand.”

Mississippi Grind

This week, as Mississippi reported its betting market had quintupled since the beginning of the NFL season – with revenues of $31.8 million — Martiny told a hearing at the State Capitol on Wednesday that he would again file a bill to create a path to legalized sports wagering — but it will have to wait until the next legislative session begins on April 8.

Just to rub salt in Martiny’s wounds, Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, was in the house to sing the praises of the new sports betting market to the northeast.

According to the The Advocate, Godfrey “at times ribbed Louisiana legislators about the benefits that Mississippi has reaped from Louisiana residents making the trip to Mississippi casinos to bet on athletic events.”

DFS Ballot-Measure Tester

Both Mississippi and Louisiana are well-positioned to capitalize from sports betting. Unlike the northeast, where the casino market is saturated and sports betting is likely to be rolled out everywhere, the two southern states are surrounded by conservative jurisdictions where casino gaming and sports betting is unlikely to take hold.

Louisiana would have almost exclusive access to the Texas sports betting market. And it would appear that Martini’s colleagues in Baton Rouge are beginning to come around to the idea.

“If we don’t address it, the world will be way out ahead of Louisiana and we’re going to be lagging behind,” Sen. Norby Chabert (R-Houma) told Wednesday’s hearing.

Should the legislature succeed in passing Martiny’s bill next year, the issue would go to public referendum. A measure on this November’s ballot that asks Louisiana residents whether they want to have legalized daily fantasy sports in their parishes will test the appetite among voters for gambling expansion.