Long Road For Louisiana Betting in 2021 Despite Parish Votes
In Louisiana, voters cast ballots by parish on gambling issues, and last election day, 55 of 64 parishes voted in favor of sports wagering. That’s good news as the 55 “Yes” parishes include the vast majority of the state’s population, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
By population, Louisiana is in the middle-of-the-pack – No. 25 among states – with about 4.6 million people making it a reasonably attractive market for sports gambling operators. Of course, it has the NFL Saints and the NBA Pelicans, plus a rabid college sports following anchored by an LSU fan base. In more normal travel times when New Orleans draws throngs of out-of-town visitors for events such as Super Bowls and the Sugar Bowl, sportsbooks might also enjoy periodic bumps in handle from tourists.
Louisiana has an array of casinos (25 according to the American Gaming Association): land-based, riverboat and racinos. Most are commercial and a few are Native American. Annual gross gaming revenue was a little more than $3 billion in 2019, according to the AGA. So, gambling has been popular in the state.
However, there is no online sports betting in Louisiana yet, either casino games or peer-to-peer, such as online poker. From a money standpoint, a Spectrum Gaming report that assumed full-blown sports wagering (casinos, race tracks, mobile devices) said it could mean about $300 million a year in taxes to the state. But that all depends on how the Louisiana state legislature crafts its rules and on competition from other states.
What to Expect in Louisiana
Louisiana is starting from scratch. On top of that, the legislature doesn’t begin its session until April, and experience has shown that things can move extremely slowly in Louisiana. For instance, voters approved Daily Fantasy Sports in 2018 and regulations weren’t approved until December 2020.
So, there is nothing guaranteed about how things will go or how fast they’ll happen. There is still anti-gambling sentiment in Louisiana, and as the DFS experience shows, the will of the voters doesn’t ensure that legislators will move with any urgency.
Everything is open for discussion, from who gets licenses to the decision on mobile betting to the tax rate. Even advocates for sports wagering in the state legislature are reluctant to publicly make predictions about what sports gambling will look like in Louisiana.
Cloudy. Someday, there will be sports wagering in Louisiana. Most likely it will include online as well as retail because without mobile, it almost doesn’t make economic sense to have it at all. But the chances that anyone will be able to make a sports wager online or in person at a Louisiana legal, licensed, regulated sportsbook in 2021 are slim.
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