Lawmakers in Louisiana have been working towards legalizing sports betting for more than a year, but it appears that they are finally getting somewhere. Sports betting has been a major point of discussion in both the House and the Senate in recent weeks, and a decision has been made.
A sports betting bill breezed through the Louisiana Senate earlier this month, leaving the House of Representatives to render their decision. The House of Representatives approved a similar bill earlier this week by an overwhelming vote of 71-24.
The bill will now head to the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards, who is expected to sign the bill into law early in June. Edwards has expressed his support over sports betting legislation in the past, and he is reportedly excited that a bill will land on his desk.
In most states, this process would make sports betting legal as soon as the governor signs it, but that isn’t the case in Louisiana. A signature from Edwards only means that a referendum will appear on the ballot in November, and the voters will make the ultimate decision.
If Louisiana voters decide to approve the sports betting referendum, that doesn’t mean that the entire state will be able to take bets on sports. This vote will be taken in each individual parish (county), and each parish will be able to make their own decision.
There are 64 parishes in the state of Louisiana, and some parishes have been more supportive of the legislation than others. The hope is that parishes that approve the measure will be able to have sports betting up and running at some point in 2021.
There are more than 50 gaming properties throughout the state of Louisiana, and all of these properties would be allowed to apply for a sports betting operator license. These establishments would have to be located in a parish that has voted in favor of legalizing the industry.
This is the second time that a vote like this has been taken, with the first referendum focusing on the topic of Daily Fantasy Sports in 2018. Just 47 of the 64 parishes voted to legalize DFS sites, but the state was unable to create laws to regulate the industry.
Even in the 47 parishes that were in support of legalization, daily fantasy sports operators are not legal or regulated.
Still Work To Be Done
Even if there are some parishes that vote to legalize sports betting, state lawmakers will still have plenty of work left to do. There wasn’t much discussion that took place regarding rules and regulations of the new industry, and those laws will have to be put in place in 2021.
Louisiana lawmakers are also not allowed to discuss new tax sources until odd-numbered years, which was one of the reasons that it wasn’t discussed this year. Sports betting revenue from operators will be taxed to bring in more money for the state.
Louisiana is currently home to the fifth-largest gaming industry in the United States, and that would make for a great market for sports betting. The gaming industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers are hoping that voters will legalize sports betting to help the state recover.
The Louisiana Senate also approved a bill on Friday that would allow for residents in the state to compete in DFS contests for money. The bill had already passed through the House, and it will now head to the governor. Residents are allowed to participate in fantasy contests as long as no money is involved.