Louisiana Voters to get a say on Legalized Sports Betting

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06/18/2020
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Louisiana Voters to get a say on Legalized Sports Betting

Back in 2018 in Louisiana, voters overwhelmingly plunged (47 parishes out of a total of 64) to approve Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). However, don’t expect Louisiana to become the next legal sports betting state like New Jersey or Nevada overnight after the outcome of November 2020’s sports betting legalization referendum.

Two years after passing the DFS referendum, Louisiana’s voters still don’t have operating DFS sites due to lawmakers being unable to agree on the related tax bills for DFS and the enabling of licenses. We can only hope that Louisiana sports betting will be enforced quicker. The global pandemic-inspired economic downturn may ensure a speedier sports betting law development as the state government badly needs the extra revenue that sports betting would generate.

Doom and gloom aside, its interesting to see how we got to the stage of a sports betting referendum, and it gives some clues as to which way the November vote will go.

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A complex passage through the Louisiana Houses

Long story short, it wasn’t easy, but the Creole State’s residents will decide on legal sports betting in November after a lot of action over the past 30 days on the floors of both houses.

In the last week of May, the Louisiana House voted 71-24 to pass a Louisiana sports betting referendum bill. Two weeks prior, the Senate passed the bill.
The Louisiana House then added additional language, making it confusing which would be the way forward to make the referendum possible.

However, before the House acted on that legislation, the Senate gave final passage to a different bill, S 130 as sponsored by State Senator Cameron Henry.

Henry also suggested that H 357 might also be given more oxygen, and amended to pass the DFS legalization, laws and tax bills in the same package.

Therein lies the difficult of getting legal sports betting up-and-running in Louisiana even if voters opt for legalization. Getting the bureaucrats in Baton Rouge to agree is not so simple, nor straightforward.

The good news – the referendum question is simple

The state’s lawmakers have refreshingly decided that on Tuesday November 3 2020, Louisiana’s 64 state parishes will be asked a clear and concise question;

“Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of _____?”

If one parish votes in the majority for sports wagering legalization, sports betting would be legal in that parish. However, to begin with, the Louisiana Legislature needs to pass two more bills next session regarding the licensing, regulation, and taxation of sports wagering.

The bill also allows for the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to have regulatory authority over sports betting, and for lawmakers to potentially adopt online and mobile sports betting without the need for an additional state-wide referendum.

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Louisiana Sports Betting – the next steps and when

It is widely hoped that sports betting will be a reality in Louisiana in readiness for the beginning of the 2021/22 NFL season.

The timeline for that to happen may potentially look like;

  • Louisiana’s voters choose for legalization on November 3 2020.
  • State lawmakers and the Governor agree on the workings, tax laws etc during the State Legislative season beginning in January 2021 and;
  • The created bill will need to pass a two-thirds majority and be signed off by the State Governor.

In a regular environment, agreeing on taxes might be a difficult task. However, in a world financially crippled by the global pandemic, it may be easier than originally thought to come to a tax agreement on Louisiana sports wagering.

The Creole State’s fiscal health may depend on the political bickering being overcome by economic reality.

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