Could Launch of Sports Betting in Louisiana Be Delayed?

Could Launch of Sports Betting in Louisiana Be Delayed?
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Without a gambling regulatory chief, it looks like the launch of Louisiana sports betting could be delayed, according to a published report this week.

In an interview with USA Today Network, state Senate President Page Cortez said “it’s a little bit of a hiccup.” Cortez was a sponsor of key sports betting legislation. The state, which saw 55 of 64 parishes approve sports betting last fall, had hoped to launch during the 2021 NFL season.

“We don’t have a Gaming Control Board chair, and until then the board can’t promulgate the rules,” Cortez said in a story by the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, a member of the USA Today Network.

The former chairman of the gaming control board, Mike Noel, resigned on June 9 rather than face a Senate confirmation hearing about previous work with the state police.

A spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards told USA Today Network that Edwards "looks forward to making an appointment sooner rather than later." One candidate believed to have emerged, according to the story, is state Sen. Ronnie Johns, who has sponsored sports betting legislation in the past.

The state Gaming Control Board must create rules and announce them publicly before casinos, restaurants, bars and other possible venues can move forward on betting parlors and kiosks.

Bills Signed by Governor on June 22

Edwards signed the final two sports betting bills into law on June 22. SB 247 is the state’s regulatory sports betting legislation and SB 142 provides for the distribution of funds generated by sports wagering.

”SB 247 fulfills the wishes of the citizens in the 55 parishes that approved the referendum last fall to allow sports wagering and SB 142 will help direct funding derived from this activity to early childhood education,” Cortez said in a statement after Edwards signed the bills.

The state legislature passed the bills on June 10, the final day of the session.

Retail & Online Sports Betting

The law allows for retail and online sports betting. The state will distribute 20 licenses among 15 current casinos and five racinos, with two skins per license. There is a 10% tax on retail bets and a 15% tax on online wagers.

Cortez told the Daily Advertiser that Noel said before he resigned that sports betting could be live for early 2022. "But that could clearly change now," Cortez said, according to the newspaper.

Delays in Louisiana for gambling expansion are not uncommon. Daily Fantasy Sports was approved by referendum in 2018 but regulations were not approved until December 2020. DFS still has not launched in Louisiana, but is expected to be live before the NFL season.

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