DFS Debate in Louisiana Nearing Resolution
The state of Louisiana has been debating the issue of legalizing daily fantasy sports during the most recent legislative session, and they have finally come to an agreement. Governor John Bel Edwards is on board, and he signed House Bill 54 earlier this week.
House Bill 54 proposed to tax the DFS industry at a rate of eight percent, and Edwards agreed with that proposal. All of the proceeds will be directed into the state’s Early Childhood Education Fund.
Even though there has been plenty of debate on the issue recently, House Bill 54 flew through both chambers of the legislature. The House approved the measure by a vote of 82-11, and the Senate unanimously approved the measure by a vote of 36-0.
The coronavirus pandemic put the discussion back at the forefront as the state was looking for new ways to bring in revenue. Louisiana is home to the fifth-largest gaming market in the United States, and legalizing and regulating the DFS industry is a great source of revenue.
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Gaming properties in Louisiana brought in more than $1 billion in gross gaming revenue a year ago. These properties have been hit hard by the pandemic, and lawmakers recently agreed to a tax cut proposal on all gross gaming revenue.
Two Years in the Making
The topic of legalizing and regulating the DFS industry popped up quickly during this legislative session, but this isn’t the first time the idea has been discussed. Voters in the state had the opportunity to vote on a DFS referendum in 2018, and several parishes voted in favor of the measure.
Forty-seven of the 64 parishes in Louisiana voted to legalize the DFS industry, but lawmakers were unable to create laws to regulate the industry in 2019. The issue eventually died out, but it resurfaced this year.
The 47 parishes that voted in favor of the referendum in 2018 are home to almost 92 percent of the state’s population. Most of these parishes already have casinos in them, and they were willing to open up a new form of gaming.
DraftKings and FanDuel helped get the referendum passed in 2018, but they were never able to apply for an operator license. Now these two companies will have a path, and they also know what the tax rate will be.
Sports Betting Vote Coming in November
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board will now have to issue licenses to DFS companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board is expected to do just that relatively soon, and the two companies could be live by the end of the year.
FanDuel and DraftKings specialize in offering football contests, and this would allow Louisiana residents to play these games by the end of the year. It won’t take the two companies to get things up and running in the state, and pressure will be on the Gaming Board to issue licenses.
Now that the DFS issue is settled, expect there to be plenty of lobbying for sports betting in the coming months. Lawmakers in the state were able to pass a ballot referendum, and the topic of sports betting will appear on the ballots in November.
Just like with the DFS issue, each parish will get to decide if they want to legalize sports betting or not. If a majority of the voters in the parish vote in favor of the referendum, then it will become legal.
Lawmakers will then have to come up with tax rates and regulations in 2021, and it’s likely that at least part of the state will have sports betting next year.