Louisiana Sports Betting Possible by Bowl Season, Ex-Regulator Says

Posted on: August 7, 2021, 02:16h. 

Last updated on: August 8, 2021, 11:59h.

Former Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones says sport betting probably won’t be up and running in the state until college bowl games are underway. 

Ronnie Jones
Ronnie Jones, former Louisiana Gaming Control Board chairman, speaks during a public meeting. He said sports betting is possible in the state by the end of this year. (Image: The Advocate)

Jones recently said on KEEL Radio that a lot of administrative work still needs to be done before anyone can place a sports bet in the state. Jones served as the regulatory agency’s chairman from 2013 until the summer of 2020. 

This summer, the Legislature approved bills to allow sports betting in the 55 of 64 parishes that voted in favor of it in the November election. Though Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed the bills into law, the Gaming Control Board must set the rules to regulate the industry.

Jones said the regulatory wheels are in motion. Edwards recently added a key piece to the nine-member Control Board by naming Ronnie Johns as chairman. The former Republican state senator is from the gaming hub of Lake Charles.

Jones told the Shreveport radio station there is no “political capital to be gained” by slowing down the process to get sports betting off the ground.

“I’m optimistic that this is well underway, and I think we’re going to see sports betting by the end of the football season,” Jones said.

A 33-year Louisiana State Police veteran, Jones has signed on as an adviser with the British gaming firm Entain, according to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge. 

Fall Start Unlikely

At the legislative session that ended in June at the Capitol in Baton Rouge, some lawmakers expressed hope that sports betting would be in place by the start of football season. 

Football is popular in Louisiana, with large fan bases for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NCAA’s Louisiana State University Tigers. Both open regular season play in September. Bowl games are played in December and into the new year.

Jones is among those who believe the process to license the sports betting companies and to set up the rules will take many months.

Now, is it possible that near the end of football season and certainly by bowl time? Yeah, that is possible,” Jones said.

Once sports betting is implemented, it will be allowed in sportsbooks at casinos and on mobile devices, such as smartphones. Bettors also will be able to put money down on live games by using kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Sports Betting Monopoly

During the Shreveport radio interview, Jones said mobile sports betting finally will put Louisiana ahead of Mississippi in something other than COVID-19 infections. 

Mobile sport betting does not take place in Mississippi or the other states bordering Louisiana. Mobile sports betting is allowed in Mississippi and Arkansas if played on a casino’s property using that casino’s app. However, no casino in either state has its own sports betting app allowing for on-site smartphone betting.

In Texas, lawmakers this year shot down proposals that would have allowed legal sport betting. However, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones predicts that legalized sports betting will be authorized at some point in Texas.