Legalized Sports Betting Bill Moves Forward in Louisiana

As more and more states move to legalize sports betting, it seems that Louisiana may be on the same path; at least the early stages of it.

A legislative committee in the state has now moved along a bill that would give voters the chance to decide on whether legalized sports betting in Louisiana is the direction they want to go or not.

If approved, the bill would mean that the authorization of sports betting would show up on the ballot in November, giving people the say within Louisiana’s individual parishes.

Not Exactly Smooth Sailing In the Past

For anyone that had hoped the legalization of sports betting would be smooth sailing in Louisiana, they were quick to discover otherwise.

Last year, there were plenty of heated debates regarding sports betting as both sides were very passionate in their standing. A bill was passed in the Senate, brought forth by former state Senator Danny Martiny, but then it hit a number of roadblocks in the House.

By time the bill got into the House, there were plenty of amendments added to it. Ultimately, these amendments ended up sinking the bill into the abyss of rejection.

New Year, New Outlook on Sports Betting

Fast forward to this current week where Senate Bill 130 was advanced by a Senate judiciary committee and it was a whole different story. There were no contentious arguments, no debate, and little to no discussion before moving it along.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, who just last year went toe-to-toe with Martiny over the same issue. And it didn’t stop there, there is also a bill that has been advanced by Senator Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, which was also advanced. The two bills are very similar.

Where Do the Objections Stem From?

Despite the fact that the new bill is moving forward, it seems there are still plenty of objections. Part of the problem is that some lawmakers don’t want to see gaming expanded in the state at all.

Others have a problem with the tax rates which they argue are set so high that the costs end up outweighing the benefits. This is where Henry’s bill could find the middle ground.

With Henry’s bill there is no tax rate that has been set, nor has it been defined who could place bets and if wagers would be limited to certain facilities. It’s more of an open-ended bill that seems to leave room for discussions.

The whole purpose of Henry’s bill is to take the argument out of the legislature and put it in the hands of citizens, asking them to decide on whether or not to legalize sports betting.

Should people vote in favor of legalized sports betting, the details would need to be worked out next year according to Senator Henry:

“We’re just going to pass the referendum bill, see if folks like it and next year, start the process of putting regulations in a bill that we’ll have months to work on rather than days or weeks.”

There is a big rush to pass Henry’s bill before the adjournment of the legislature scheduled on June 1st, a date that is quickly approaching.

What Makes Passing Sports Betting Tough in Louisiana

It also needs to be pointed out that passing legalized sports betting in the state of Louisiana is a challenge all in its own thanks to the fact it can’t be done on a statewide basis.

It will be the individual parishes that have to decide on legal sports betting, which is why the referendum in November is such a massive part of the process.

For sports betting to become legal in 2021, Henry’s bill needs to be passed so it can make it to the referendum. Next, the bill needs to be approved by the majority of parishes in November.

From there, the Governor and legislators will need to agree on the specific language to be used in the bill (which will happen next year), and then at that point the tax rate and fees can be set and passed by a “super majority”, which is two thirds of the Legislature.

If the bill is passed by the state’s Legislature then it will be sent to the Governor to get his approval and passed into law. Although there’s still plenty of steps that remain, the optimism for legalized sports betting in Louisiana by next year is growing. The state could see live betting by the 2021 football season.

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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