Mobile Sports Betting Up for Debate as Louisiana Lawmakers Meet

Posted on: April 11, 2021, 03:32h. 

Last updated on: June 30, 2021, 09:54h.

When lawmakers meet Monday for the start of the Louisiana legislative session, mobile sports betting is expected to take center stage.

John Bel Edwards, Ed Orgeron
Gov. John Bel Edwards, left, and LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron shake hands in 2019 prior to the pandemic. Legislation on sports betting is expected to land on the governor’s desk this year. (Image: Sports Illustrated)

State Senate President Page Cortez (R) and two other Republican senators have prefiled Senate Bill 202, a 39-page measure to regulate sports betting in the state.

The early version of the bill includes language to allow mobile sports betting. However, the language in bills can change, sometimes substantially, during debate and compromise at a legislative session.

Cortez has said sports betting will generate “meaningful revenue” only if allowed on mobile devices, such as smartphones. He has estimated mobile sports betting could generate $10 million to $20 million in tax revenue each year.

Of the nearly 900 bills that have been filed, a half-dozen deal with sports betting, including SB202. The others address matters such as licensing fees and tax structure.

The two-month Louisiana session begins Monday at noon at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. It ends June 10 at 6 pm.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is scheduled to present his legislative agenda on Monday at 6 pm at the Southern University stadium in Baton Rouge, according to the Associated Press. His speech is being held there instead of the House chamber because of social distancing concerns. The governor’s office hopes to keep the crowd to about 100 people, the AP reported.

Hotbed for Sports

In November, voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes approved sports betting within the boundaries of their parish. However, the ballot item did not specify whether bettors would have to place wagers in person at casino sportsbooks, or would be allowed to bet on smartphone apps.

Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos.

Two states that border Louisiana — Arkansas and Mississippi — have sportsbooks inside casinos, but do not permit mobile sports betting. Texas, which borders Louisiana on the west, does not have commercial casinos and does not permit sports betting. The state nearest to Louisiana with mobile sports betting is Tennessee, but the Volunteer State does not have commercial casinos.

Louisiana is considered a popular setting for sports enthusiasts. The state is home to two professional teams, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Several college teams in the state have active fan bases, especially for football. The Louisiana State University Tigers are an annual football powerhouse, competing in the Southeastern Conference.  

Other States Consider Mobile Wagering

The issue of mobile sports betting has come up recently in other Southern states.

A proposal at the Georgia General Assembly to allow mobile sports betting failed to pass before lawmakers went home in March until next year. Measures to allow commercial casinos and horse tracks in Georgia also did not win approval this year at the Gold Dome in Atlanta.

In Arkansas, a Little Rock lobbying firm representing DraftKings and other mobile sports betting companies is seeking a rule change to allow that type of betting in the state. The state has not taken any action on the request. Under current rules, the state’s three casinos could create their own betting app to allow mobile sports betting. However, any wager made on the app would have to be placed on casino property, state officials told