Louisiana Pushes to Legalize Sports Gambling, Will Use Revenue to Fund ECE Expansion
With neighboring states enjoying revenue from legalized sports betting, Louisiana is once again looking to embrace this industry within their borders. However, there’s one caveat to this newfound desire for sports betting and that’s to fund early childhood education with the tax revenue. This is something similar to what New Hampshire is hoping to accomplish.
Sports Betting and Early Childhood Education
According to Senator Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) of Louisiana, there’s a committed push to link early childhood education expansion with sports betting revenue. Martiny plans to bring a bill forward during the next legislative session, starting April 8th, that will legalize sports betting while dedicating the tax revenue to early childhood education.
This bill will be the same one he sponsored in 2018 before the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting. The main change between that bill (which was defeated) and this one is the amendment to direct tax revenue to early childhood education.
Revenue from sports betting would not cover the entire costs of ECE expansion, but the act of pinning together sports betting with childhood education might give the bill more momentum given the fact that education is widely supported and uncontroversial.
According to Louisiana’s Early Childhood Care and Education Commission, pre-schools for needy children should be expanded. This will cost around $86 million every year; Martiny’s sports gaming legislation will probably bring in between $40 and $60 million per year. The Commission’s executive summary indicates the state cannot currently meet early education needs with its funding levels how they are now.
Louisiana’s Department of Education’s Press Secretary Sydni Dunn spoke about the urgent need for legislative help:
“Louisiana must find a way to provide the affordable, high quality early childhood care and education that working families and their children need and deserve. We will closely watch the upcoming legislative session, hopeful state leaders will act on this urgent issue.”
Sports Betting in Louisiana
As of right now, sports betting is still illegal in Louisiana, but it’s legal in other states. Gamblers also have access to illegal gambling options both inside and outside of the state, according to Martiny:
“It’s happening right now. There are people that are betting on sports in Louisiana, whether they’re betting with a bookie or they’re betting offshore. They’re betting.”
Sports Betting in the United States
In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that banned sports betting outside of Nevada was unconstitutional and overturned it. This left each state to legalize and regulate sports betting.
Since then, several states have launched operational sportsbooks, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware, and New Mexico. New York and Arkansas will soon have legal sports betting, and at least 25 more states have introduced sports betting legislation in 2019. Louisiana would be foolish not to join these other states in legalizing sports betting in 2019. The revenue is just too much to ignore, especially for states with budget needs.
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