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Louisiana Sports Betting Bills Head To Senate

As states all across the United States are looking for revenue in an effort to aid in the recovery efforts from the coronavirus pandemic, Louisiana is turning to sports betting. A pair of sports betting bills passed through committee and have now made their way to the Senate floor.

Republican state senators were behind both of the bills, and they are both very similar in their language and rules. The Judiciary Committee met and discussed these bills on Tuesday, and quickly decided to pass them through to the Senate.

Senate Bill 378 was sponsored by Senator Ronnie Johns. Senate Bill 130 was proposed by Senator Cameron Henry. Both bills look to leave the ultimate decision up to the voters of the state by placing a referendum on the ballot in November.

Up To Parishes

While most states that have left the decision up to the voters in the state have legalized sports betting statewide, it would work a little differently in Louisiana. Each parish would have the opportunity to vote to legalize sports betting, or choose to keep the growing industry out.

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Parishes are more commonly known as counties in other states across the country, and there are 64 of them in Louisiana. Each parish is a different size, but Jefferson and East Baton Rouge are the two biggest.

Even though residents of each parish will have the decision placed in front of them in November, don’t expect sports betting to launch in Louisiana anytime soon. These bills did not include any rules or regulations for the industry, and other bills would have to be introduced.

There has been a major push for sports betting in Louisiana over the past several months, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced lawmakers to take a closer look at the industry.

Need For Revenue

Louisiana is home to more than 50 casinos or race tracks, but these establishments have been shut down for more than a month to slow the spread of the disease. Financial experts have estimated that the state has already lost more than $100 million due to these closures.

Lawmakers that have been in favor of legalized sports betting and online gambling are planning to use this financial crisis to their advantage. Casinos and online sportsbook operators are expected to lobby for support in getting this referendum passed in November.

Senate Bill 378 allows for any casino to be eligible to apply for a sports betting license. This includes both commercial and tribal casinos located in the state.

Both bills also allow for online or mobile wagering, but all betting must take place at the casino. Betting on college sports would be included in either of the two bills that pass through the Senate.

Even though there seems to be more support for sports betting this time around, this isn’t the first attempt at legalizing sports betting. A sports wagering plan was put in place in 2019 but eventually died out before reaching the ballot.

In November 2018, parishes throughout the state were given the chance to vote on a referendum to legalize daily fantasy sports. Forty-seven of the 64 parishes voted in favor of the initiative, but state lawmakers were unable to pass legislation to regulate the industry.

There isn’t much time for lawmakers in the state to discuss the pair of sports betting bills before having to take a vote. Lawmakers in Louisiana first met on March 9 but were forced to shut down just six days later.

The legislature returned for the first time on Monday, but they are scheduled to adjourn for the summer on June 1. There are several major topics that still need to be discussed, leaving little time for sports betting.

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