Louisiana Considers Online Gambling Legislation

Louisiana Considers Online Gambling LegislationCiting concerns that consumers are not adequately protected when patronizing unregulated online gambling sites, Louisiana may consider legislation.

The Bayou State is currently one of seven with laws on the books banning Internet gambling. State regulators have suggested that lawmakers would best serve their constituents by perhaps enacting regulations. Ronnie Jones, the chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, noted that players within the state are wagering online despite the statute prohibiting such behavior.

Recommendations were made by state officials on Tuesday, Jan. 21 in a presentation that included concerns voiced by Jones, a representative of the Louisiana State Police Gaming Division, and Assistant Attorney General Leonce Gautreaux. Those findings were made in response to a House Concurrent Resolution filed by Rep. Mike Huval last March.

Huval asked industry and state officials to conduct research and determine possible requirements that may be proposed in order to regulate Internet gambling. The lawmaker filed the resolution after his bill proposing a study of online gambling failed to advance past a committee following approval in the House.

Along with the issue of consumer protection, state officials brought up the need to prevent minors from gambling online, the ability to identify possible criminal activity and violations of regulations, regulatory compliance safeguards to ensure fair and consistent operations, and a requirement that Louisiana citizens be afforded confidence and trust that online gaming sites operating within the state are suitable.

Jones pointed out that the state gaming commission has not spoken out either in support of or against online gambling. He told NOLA.com that it was up to state lawmakers to decide. That decision will undoubtedly be debated in the upcoming legislative session.

A Louisiana statute enacted in 1997 criminalized gambling by computer. The possibility of added revenue and the desire to protect its citizens who are logging on to offshore sites that provide no regulation may prompt state legislators to repeal that 16-year-old law and approve Internet gambling.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett