Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contests Parish Measure Voter Guide

Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contests Parish Measure Voter Guide

Louisiana voters in each parish (the state’s county equivalent) will determine the legality of daily fantasy sports. Approved by the state legislature earlier this year, the measure now goes to final approval by the voters.

What is the ‘Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contest’ Measure?

If the majority votes “yes,” daily fantasy sports operators will gain a pathway to entry into that parish market. If the majority votes “no,” a prior state-sanctioned ban will remain in place.

The games allow users to select from a list of professional athletes in leagues like the NFL or MLB with the goal to accumulate the greatest possible statistical output from their group of selected players. Users with the highest-performing players during a specified contest can win prizes, typically cash payouts.

Since major DFS providers like DraftKings and FanDuel burst into the American sports fan’s consciousness in 2015 with a seemingly ubiquitous barrage of advertising, state legislatures have tried to figure out how to regulate this new form of gaming.

About two dozen states have explicitly legalized them, declaring them as games of skill and not a form of gambling. Another group of states has not explicitly ruled either way, allowing these games to operate unencumbered.

A smaller group of states, including Louisiana, have deemed DFS a form of gambling and subsequently prohibited them from operating in that jurisdiction. Louisiana, which has one of the more robust gambling markets in America, is still limited by the state constitution and each new facet of gambling has to be approved individually.

After multiple attempts to legalize the game, a consensus was finally reached in the legislature earlier this year. However, the state constitution requires measures like these to be approved on a parish-level basis.

Now Louisiana is set to be the first state to approve DFS games through a voter referendum and the first to do so in some jurisdictions and not others.

Assuming at least one of the 64 parishes votes “no,” this will create an unusual patchwork where residents in one parish will have access to these games and those in the parish across the street will not. DFS providers are confident their “geofencing” capabilities, which uses GPS technology to determine a user’s location, will accommodate this atypical arrangement to allow or disallow their games on such a granular level.

'Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contest’ Measure Text

The measure is about as straightforward as any ballot question can be. Louisiana voters will see the following:

Proposition to Authorize Fantasy Sports Contests

Shall fantasy sports contests be permitted in the parish of (parish name)?

Complete details of the bill that authorized the ballot measure are available through the Louisiana legislature’s website.

Would this Impact Sports Betting?

It expands daily fantasy sports to all parishes with “yes” votes but has no further impact on betting on individual sporting events. Like with DFS, Bayou State lawmakers have pushed for a comprehensive sports betting legalization similar to the one in Nevada, New Jersey and neighboring Mississippi, but so far all legislative efforts have stalled.

Assuming daily fantasy become available in a sizeable portion of the state, it may prod lawmakers to reconsider the sports betting ban. Legislators will likely reintroduce a sports betting bill in the 2019 legislative session, but in the meantime sports betting will remain banned in Louisiana regardless of the daily fantasy measure.

Who are the Biggest Proponents?

It may come as no shock that daily fantasy providers are the biggest supporters. FanDuel has raised several thousand dollars for a support group called Fairness for Fantasy Sports Louisiana. It created a website and advertising to encourage voters to support DFS in their parish.

Daily fantasy also has widespread support from lawmakers. After legalization efforts failed in previous years, a bill passed through both the Republican-controlled state Senate and House of Representatives in 2018 with widespread support and without any debate. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has also supported the measure.

Who are the Biggest Opponents?

Some of the state’s other gambling entities have been among the most vocal opponents. The state’s casinos, video poker purveyors and other gambling stakeholders have fought against DFS, fearing money spent there would mean less money at their entities.

Other opposition groups include organizations typically against any form of gambling. The Baton Rouge Advocate reports religious groups like the Louisiana Family Forum have publicly come out in opposition, as have anti-gambling organizations.

Unlike other high profile ballot measures, the DFS measure hasn’t received much financial backing from either camp.

What Does it Take to Pass?

A parish will only need a simple majority “yes” vote to pass. It’s important to note an affirmative vote doesn’t not automatically authorize daily fantasy games. Lawmakers still need to agree upon regulation and taxation measures when they reconvene in Baton Rouge for the 2019 legislative session.

That means even if a parish approves DFS, leading providers may not be operational until sometime in 2019.

Will it Pass?

Projections show upwards of 30 parishes will approve the measure. Multiple parishes already have some sort of gambling infrastructure so the state’s conservative, religious and anti-gambling sentiments may not have much sway to stop DFS. The games are already widespread in most other states, as are traditional fantasy games, so residents here are already somewhat accustomed to the games and how they function.

When do Voters Decide this Measure?

Like voters in the other 49 states, Louisiana residents head to the polls for the midterm elections Nov. 6. Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Early and absentee voting is already underway.