It is confirmed that legal sports betting will not be coming to Louisiana this year after the state’s lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would legalize the sector on the last day of the 2019 legislative session.
The Senator has been working on SB 153 for the better part of the year, and the bill was well-received by members of the Senate when it was first introduced to the House.
However, some controversial amendments by the House Appropriations Committee in late May led to its untimely demise.
The Poison-Pill Amendments That Killed Bill
The House Appropriations Committee adopted two sets of changes to the Louisiana sports betting bill in late May, in spite of opposition from stakeholders.
The first amendment introduced the language of “sports organization” to the bill. It also compelled licensed operators to use data from the sports leagues or their approved distributors. This meant that operators in Louisiana would have to get match data and game statistics from the official sports organizations participating in a competition and not third parties.
Speaking in favor of the proposal, Rep. Jack McFarland said that this addition was necessary to “address some concerns” from the professional leagues.
On the other hand, Sen. Martiny opposed this amendment, pointing out that this was not the norm in other states where sports betting was legal. He was also concerned about the issue of the leagues charging operators for the provision of data.
The committee adopted the proposal in spite of the Senator’s objection.
The second set of amendments allowed video poker parlors in Louisiana to apply for sports betting licenses. The state has about 2,800 licensed video poker establishments.
Once again, the proposal was opposed by the sponsor and representatives from the state Gaming Commission and Casino Association, but the Committee members had their way at the end of the day.
Speaking after the adoption of the amendments, Sen. Martiny was clearly disappointed that the committee was determined to sink his efforts.
Louisiana Bettors To Miss Out On DFS
In addition to missing out on sports betting, bettors in Louisiana will have to wait for at least two more years before they can place a legal wager on Daily Fantasy Sports.
The state legalized DFS through a referendum last year. However, lawmakers failed to establish a revenue allocation framework for the market before the end of the session.
The Senate had already approved a tax bill for DFS betting but last-minute efforts to sneak sports betting language to the fantasy sports bill, HB 600, made it impossible to pass.
This final bit of drama leaves Louisiana fantasy sports betting in a stalemate. The market is legal, but the lack of tax mechanism means it can’t be rolled out.
For now, DFS enthusiasts in the state will have to wait until the 2021 legislative session to see whether lawmakers will succeed in passing a tax bill.