The effort to legalize sports betting passed the Senate and is now on its way to the House where it will be heavily debated. The goal for sports betting proponents is to get the bill passed through the House, signed by the Governor and on the November ballot for voters to weigh in on.
If the voters approve of this referendum, Louisiana could end up with sports betting by the beginning of 2022. However, before the gambling proponents get ahead of themselves, there’s still a lot of work to be done in order to convince their constituents.
Previous attempts to legalize sports betting over the last few years have been futile. In fact, some crashed and burned before even making it to the Senate. It’s been so difficult in Louisiana that attempts to legalize fantasy sports have been rejected as well.
Former state Senator Danny Martiny, who made the push for legalizing fantasy sports, discussed how residents are still participating in sports betting and that the state is missing out on the revenue:
“The people who want to bet are betting anyway, we’re just not reaping any benefits. It exists, it’s an industry in and of itself, it’s just not regulated and we don’t tax it.”
It wasn’t until Senator Cameron Henry’s bill (SB130) was introduced that progress on sports betting has finally been made in the state. This bill is now on its way to House with the hopes of approval.
While Henry’s bill (SB130) is busy getting traction, there is an identical bill from Senator Ronnie Johns (SB378) that is also making its way through the legislature.
The fact that they are basically identical was done on purpose as they are meant to be “insurance for one another,” ensuring that one of them would be passed and approved.
If the House approves either bill, the Governor will almost certainly sign off on it which then puts the issue of sports betting on the November 3rd ballot where each parish can have their say and vote.
If the voters support sports betting, and early indications are that they will, lawmakers would need to figure out the rules and regulations for each parish, and then approve those measures next year during the legislative session.
This is why many pundits are predicting a late-2021 or early-2022 start date for sports betting because there’s still many legal issues to resolve. In other words, there is still a long way to go.
While legalized sports betting in general was able to move through the process rather quickly these past few weeks, there were still heated debates over several topics. One intense debate centred on which sports would be allowed to wager on.
Another topic that was at the core of contention among state leaders was the taxation of sports betting. State leaders debated over what to set the tax rate at and how the tax revenue would be used.
Opponents of sports betting cite the potential for addiction problems as a reason to reject these bills. This will certainly be another issue that lawmakers will have to address before anything can be legalized in the state. All eyes will be on what the House does with these two bills and how they address the core issues at hand.
With that said, sports betting is gaining momentum in Louisiana and there’s a growing consensus that the state could eventually legalize it by 2022 at the latest.
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