On Tuesday, the Louisiana House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice voted to advance sports betting bill SB 153. The bill had already passed out of the Senate back in April.
Danny Martiny (R-District 10) is the sponsor of SB 153. Martiny has been trying to bring sports betting to Louisiana since 2018 when the states were allowed to legalize it. Like most other advocates of sports betting, Martiny wants to bring it out from the shadows of illegal wagering into a safe, legal, and taxed environment.
“We already get so much money from gaming, and yet we seem to do everything we can to not put (casinos) on an even playing field.” Martiny continued: “We don’t regulate it; we don’t have the wherewithal to deal with it. If you pass this bill, you’ll be giving the gaming control board the ability to regulate it.”
Martiny’s bill does not include mobile wagering. However, it would legalize sports betting at the state’s 20 gaming establishments. It would also legalize it at 15 riverboats, four racetracks, and the Harrahs Casino.
The regulatory framework of the bill comes via HB 587. Representative Joseph Marino sponsors HB 587. His bill calls for a 13 percent tax on gross gaming revenue. Of that 13 percent, 10 percent will fund early childhood education, two percent to the local parishes where the sportsbook is located, and one percent will go to problem gambling programs.
With neighboring Mississippi being among the first to legalize sports betting, Louisiana has been losing money to them for months. The loss of all of that potential revenue to Mississippi could be what is helping Martiny’s bill progress. However, Mississippi isn’t the only state that Louisiana has to worry about.
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Up north, Arkansas already has legalized sports betting. If Louisiana waits too long to bring sports betting to its state, they will be losing revenue to two out of three of their neighboring states. The good news for Louisiana, they don’t have to worry about Texas to the west. Legal sports betting won’t be making its way to the Longhorn State any time soon.
The lack of sports betting in Texas should give Louisiana extra incentive to move to legalize sports betting this year. Louisiana can certainly compete with Arkansas in attracting east Texas residents. That alone could provide a huge market. Mobile sports betting would be an even bigger boost to the state, but it appears Louisiana isn’t entertaining that idea at the moment.
Job one is just to bring sports betting to the state, in any form. After seeing the success it can bring to the state financially, they can re-address the idea of mobile sports betting down the road. Texas is years away from legalizing sports betting, at best. That means Louisiana has time to wait to bring mobile betting to their state to attract residents of Texas. Louisiana just can’t make the mistake of wasting years trying to bring even a basic form legal sports betting to the state. The Pelican State needs to move forward with Martiny’s bill.
Martiny’s bill has less than three weeks to finish passing through legislation before it gets sent to Governor John Bel Edwards. The current session ends on June 6.