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Louisiana betting bills beat the clock on final day of regular session


Regulations for Louisiana’s sports betting market and a separate bill formalising how funds from legal wagering will be distributed are headed to Governor John Bel Edwards for his signature. 

Senate Bill 247, sponsored by Senate President Patrick Page Cortez, and SB142, from Senator Rick Ward III, both passed after going to a conference committee, when the upper chamber rejected amendments put forward in the House of Representatives.

This meant they passed on the final day of the state’s legislative session.

Cortez’s bill returned from the House with a number of amendments, which were unanimously rejected by the Senate. 

This meant its hopes of passing – and Louisiana’s hopes of legal wagering in 2021 – rested on a group of lawmakers from each chamber. 

The conference committee then agreed to accept the amendments, with the bill passing the Senate with 33 votes in favour, and three against. This means 20 licenses will be available, for the state’s casinos and racetracks – comprising one land-based property, 15 riverboats and four racinos – with each permitted to offer betting via two skins. 

SB142 faced a similar problem, with House amendments rejected by the Senate, only to be agreed upon after going to a conference committee. 

The appropriations bill sets out where money from the newly-regulated vertical would be allocated, with 25% going to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund. 

A further 10% will go to the Sports Wagering Local Allocation Fund. This is established through SB142, and will distribute money to the parishes in which sports betting takes place. 

The Sports Wagering Purse Supplement Fund – another new fund – will receive 2.5% of returns, to be allocated to prize purses at the Louisiana State Racing Commission’s discretion. 

The Disability Affairs Trust and Behavioral Health and Wellness Funds will receive 2% apiece, or $50,000, whichever is greater, with any remaining money going to the State General Fund. 

The money generated in the market has already been determined, by House Bill 697, signed into law by Governor Edwards earlier this month. 

That sets a 10% gross revenue tax for retail betting, rising to 18% for online, as well as a $250,000 fee for operator license applications, then an additional $500,000 charge upon receipt of the license itself. 

HB697 also provides for the Louisiana State Lottery to offer sports betting, provided it pays 30% of gross proceeds back to the state. That would mean that there could be as many as 41 different brands allowed to operate in the market.

The state’s path towards legal wagering was laid by a parish-by-parish referendum that took place in November 2020, in which voters in 55 of 64 backed sports betting.