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Louisiana Senate passes sports betting referendum bill


The Louisiana State Senate has passed a bill to legalize sports betting in the state, by a margin of 29-8, and now passes to the House of Representatives for further scrutiny.

SB130 – proposed by Senator J. Cameron Henry – aims to hold a parish-by-parish referendum on whether to allow sports betting in Louisiana. Only those jurisdictions that vote in favour will be permitted to offer wagering.

The proposition would appear on the ballot of the 3 November, 2020 election. 

Louisiana lawmakers and the Gaming Control Board would then set out rules for licensing, regulation and tax if any parishes vote for the proposition in 2021.

A bill to introduce sports betting earlier than this would not be possible, as no tax rate could be set. The state only considers fiscal matters in odd-numbered years, unless the Governor calls a special fiscal session. 

In 2018, 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted to regulate and tax daily fantasy sports. However, Senator Daniel Martiny filibustered the bill after its sponsor, Senator Kirk Talbot, refused to attach the Senator’s sports betting bill to his proposal.

Henry’s bill was one of five bills introduced to regulate sports betting at the start of the legislative session.

Senator Talbot introduced SB66, with similar content to SB130. Both bills were referred to the Judiciary B Committee, but Henry’s bill was the one to advance.

Senators Ronnie Johns and Barry Peacock each proposed bills – SB378 and SB332 respectively – that would set out operating conditions for future licensees if spots betting is approved.

Johns’ bill was also scheduled for a vote yesterday (13 May), alongside Henry’s. Johns is credited as a co-author of Henry’s bill.

Peacock’s bill was substituted by SB516, which would allow “promotional wagers” using noncashable vouchers or credits. The bill was referred to the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee.

In the House, Tanner McGee’s House Bill 357 proposed the same, but has not left the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.

Henry’s bill was prefiled in February and introduced on 9 March. After its passage in the senate by a 29-8 vote, it was referred to the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.