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Louisiana sports betting prospects bleak after committee deferral


Senator Daniel Martiny’s bill to regulate sports betting in Louisiana looks set to die in committee after the House Committee on Appropriations made a series of major amendments to the proposal before involuntarily deferring its passage. 

The committee first voted to shelve the bill, then an attempt to involuntarily defer it prevailed, which means it may now only be adopted and progressed if two-thirds of the 28-member committee vote to do so.

With the legislative session to be adjourned on June 6, there does not appear to be enough time for this to happen. The bill had already been ratified by the Senate, earlier in May.

Before its deferral, Senate Bill 153 underwent significant changes in committee, with one amendment mandating the use of official league data for all Louisiana licensees.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board would be required to create rules governing contracts and agreements between licensed operators and sports governing bodies to ensure that all terms and conditions met commercially reasonable standards.

The leagues would also have a say in determining what, if any, restrictions be placed on bet types or the events on which bookmakers could offer odds.

A second amendment would have permitted Louisiana’s licensed video poker parlors to host sports betting kiosks. Each venue would require a sports wagering license to do so, and would be able to replace one video poker machine for one sports betting kiosk or self-service terminal.

The final amendment, meanwhile, set out how tax raised through regulated sports betting would be distributed in the state.

One thirteenth of tax revenue (7.7%) would be allocated to the Louisiana Compulsive and Problem Gaming Fund. This would be capped at $750,000, with any sum over this amount going to the state’s Early Childhood Education Fund.

The Early Childhood Education Fund would be the main beneficiary of legal wagering in the state, with 76.9% of tax revenue allocated to the fund. The final 15.4% would go to the governing authority of the parish in which the licensee is based.

The bill, filed in March, would have legalised in-person wagering at licensed casinos, riverboat casinos and racetracks throughout the state. While off-premises mobile wagering was not permitted, customers would have been able to place mobile wagers while in a gambling facility.

SB153’s companion bill in the Louisiana House, HB587, failed to pass in the lower house after less than two-thirds of Representatives voted in favour of the proposal. The bill set out an annual fee of $50,000 for sports wagering service providers and a $100,000 license fee for operators, as well as a 12% net revenue tax.

Image: Famartin