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Louisiana passes fantasy sports tax bill


Louisiana has finally passed a fantasy sports tax bill, more than 18 months after 47 of the state’s parishes approved the game, as governor John Bel Edwards signed Representative John Stefanski’s bill, introduced in a special session of the state’s legislature.

HB64 sets an 8% tax on revenue on paid fantasy sports, to be paid monthly. The funds shall go towards the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund. The Legislative Fiscal Office’s fiscal note for the bill estimates the bill will bring in around $375,000 in tax.

The bill passed the House by an 82-11 vote on 17 June before receiving unanimous approval in the Senate, sending it to Edwards’ desk, where it became law on Tuesday (13 July).

The bill’s passage follows HB357 – creating regulations for paid fantasy sports games – receiving Edwards’ signature on 9 June.

HB357 establishes that fantasy sports operators must apply to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board for a license, paying a $100,000 application fee, and that fantasy sports employees and their relatives may not compete in these contests. Fantasy sports players must be aged at least 21.

The bill was introduced by representative Tanner Magee and sponsored by Magee and 11 other representatives from both major parties.

Louisiana had previously approved fantasy sports by referendum in 47 of its 64 parishes in 2018’s November election.

However, a dispute over sports betting meant that bills to tax and regulate the games never passed. Senator Daniel Martiny filibustered the tax bill, killing the regulation bill as well, after its sponsor, Senator Kirk Talbot, refused to attach Martiny’s sports betting bill to his proposal.

This could have resulted in Louisiana players being unable to legally play fantasy sports until 2021, as the state cannot pass tax legislation in non-fiscal (even-numbered) years unless a special session is called.

With a special fiscal session called as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Stefanski used this opportunity to put forward a tax proposal.

Last month, Edwards also signed into law a bill to arrange a parish-by-parish referendum on whether to legalise sports betting in the state.

Introduced by Senator J Cameron Henry, SB130 allows parishes across the state to hold referendums as to whether sports betting should be permitted in each jurisdiction.