With the Supreme Court set to release a ruling on sports betting in the U.S. soon, Louisiana has thrown its hat into the ring with new proposed sports betting and online gambling bills. If the SCOTUS rules in favor of New Jersey and either strikes down PASPA, the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, or claims state’s rights trump the federal act the state could be in good position to join other states such as West Virginia in passing required legislation to allow sports wagering in its jurisdiction.
Louisiana’s newly introduced legislations, Senate Bill 322 and House Bill 245, each deal with sports betting. S 322 focuses on legalizing online gambling which would, of course, go hand-in-hand with sports betting and daily fantasy sports should they be legalized in the state along with a host of other options as the bill outlines:
"internet gaming shall mean any variation or composite of an authorized game that is offered through the internet, provided that such games, or variations or composites, are found suitable for use by the board and any other game which is determined to be suitable by the board. The term includes gaming tournaments conducted via the internet in which players compete against one another in one or more games authorized by the board or in approved variations or composites thereof if the tournament is authorized by the board."
The bill would provide legal online gambling on a parish-by-parish basis, asking each individual municipal to vote and in turn giving them the right to decide whether the activity will be allowed in their immediate community. The effects of the act wouldn’t see public consumption for another two years as the act lists a start date for section 2 on January 1, 2020. Additionally the bill would establish a minimum age of 21 for all potential participants, be regulated by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and require licenses in connection with either riverboat and land-based casinos.
The sports betting bill, H 245, would expand gaming at eligible live horse racing facilities to include sports betting. That would include the Delta Downs, Evangeline Downs, Fair Grounds, and Louisiana Downs. While the bill would not cover online and mobile betting, the passage of S 322 would likely play a role in unison with this bill.
The bill allows for betting “on any type of sports event, including but not limited to football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing, tennis, wrestling, jai alai, or other sports contest or event.” Similar to S 322, the LGCB would regulate sports betting activity and local parishes where it would take place would be called upon to vote for it.
"Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no gaming activities shall be allowed in an eligible facility in any parish unless the operation and conducting of gaming activities pursuant to this Chapter has first been approved at an election held for such purpose".
Additionally Rep. Kirk Talbot introduced a Daily Fantasy bill this week which would seek to legalize paid-entry fantasy sports and challenge state prohibitions that ban computer-based gambling. Daily fantasy providers Draftkings and Fanduel have never been able to operate in Louisiana making it one of the only five U.S. states neither service has had activity in. The state has been trying to legalize daily fantasy sports since 2010 and most recently had a bill pulled back in 2015 by its creator even though he admitted it had a chance of passage.
While the Bayou State decided to up the ante on its sports betting efforts, one nearby state decided to step back. Oklahoma’s House of Representatives had reportedly pushed through a bill that would legalize sports betting at its tribal casinos and allow the state to collect 10 percent of the gambling revenue. However, Eric Ramsey of the Legal Sports Report tweeted Oklahoma’s intentions on proceeding with sports betting language in the proposed bill on Monday.
Oklahoma sports betting shelved for now. "Sports pool" language amended out of both House and Senate versions of the bill. https://t.co/PUVfAIoA9x— Eric Ramsey (@Eric_Ramsey) March 5, 2018
While so much remains up in the air about legal sports betting and the U.S. it is incredibly encouraging to see states with such histories against online gambling as Louisiana taking bold moves towards change. The SCOTUS decision has done a lot to push for that change and, regardless of the outcome, its presence has no doubt revealed a very real and pressing interest in establishing sports betting in the US.