Louisiana Sports Betting Legalization Hits Roadblock

By in Gambling Laws on
3 Minute Read
  • Louisiana will not be able to implement legalized sports betting until the Gaming Control Board names a new chairperson
  • The former chairman, Mike Noel, resigned from the job last month
  • Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted in favor of sports betting last November

While neighboring Mississippi has had a fully operational sports betting industry for quite some time, Louisiana has been slower to embrace the idea. Louisiana lawmakers have reportedly been discussing potential options when it comes to opening their own industry, but a few roadblocks are still standing in the way.

Most importantly, Louisiana is currently lacking a Gaming Control Board chair. Governor John Bel Edwards has already put pen to paper on a number of bills that have been brought forth by local lawmakers, but negotiations have stalled as the state searches for someone to lead the operation.

The state’s Gaming Control Board cannot move forward with discussions on industry framework without someone in charge.

No Chairperson Yet

Governor Edwards will be tasked with appointing a new chairman after Mike Noel resigned from the post on June 9. Noel decided to resign as opposed to facing a Senate confirmation hearing in light of a prior scandal during his time with the State Police.

Senator Page Cortez told USA Today,

“It’s a little bit of a hiccup. We don’t have a Gaming Control Board chair, and until then the board can’t promulgate the rules.” Christina Stephen, a spokesperson for the governor, told USA Today that Edwards will be appointing a replacement for Noel “sooner rather than later.”

Stephens said,

“The governor is working to find a commissioner with the right skill and experience to lead during this important time for the gaming industry in Louisiana.” Lake Charles Republican Senator Ronnie Johns has been rumored as a potential candidate for the job, but no announcement has been made yet.”

When asked about his potential interest in taking the job, Johns said,

“It’s the governor’s call to make, but should he honor me by offering me the position I would very much like to serve. I think I’d have a lot to offer because the board needs leadership to make sure the industry is compliant, clean, and pristine during this critical time.”

Noel had reportedly indicated to local lawmakers that he believed sports betting could be ready to go by early 2022, potentially even before next year’s Super Bowl. However, his resignation has left plans on hold.

Whenever Louisiana does get on track and open sports betting, it will mark the state’s biggest gambling expansion since the state opened its lottery, casinos, and video poker industries in the early 1990s. Last year, gambling generated about $600 million in state taxes.

Louisiana Sports Betting Is Inevitable

Lawmakers are hoping to allow local casinos to open Las Vegas-style sportsbooks inside their properties around the state. Racetracks will be allowed to do the same, while there will be an internet component, as well. Betting via mobile devices and at bars and restaurants is also on the agenda.

Early Legislation Has Called for the State to Issue 20 Sports Betting Licenses to Interested Operators

Casinos and racetracks already in existence will have the rights to first refusal when it comes to the licenses. Each license will also include two skins that can be used to contract mobile operators. A bill authored by Senator Cortez calls for rapid implementation in order to get the industry going as soon as possible, but the legislation cannot move forward without rules from the Gaming Control Board.

55 of the 64 parishes in the state voted in favor of legalized sports betting last year, but local lawmakers were unable to get the framework in place before the end of the legislative session in the spring. Winn, Caldwell, Catahoula, Jackson, Franklin, West Carroll, Sabine, Union, and LaSalle were the nine local parishes that rejected the ballot measure, so sports betting will remain prohibited in those areas.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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