Louisiana Gaming: Threat From Texas, Plus More Parishes Could Legalize Sports Betting

Author Image Article By
Last Updated: 
Share On Your Network
Louisiana Gaming: Threat From Texas, Plus More Parishes Could Legalize Sports Betting
© USA Today

If Texas ever approves commercial casinos and sports betting, Louisiana could see a big falloff in gaming revenue, says the Bayou State’s top regulator.

“It’s going to be a huge blow to Louisiana,” Ronnie Johns, Louisiana Gaming Control board chairman, said.

Johns, who is retiring at the end of June after three years as chairman, spoke with Gambling.com in a wide-ranging interview on “The Edge.” Johns is pictured above with multimillion-dollar sports bettor Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, left, of Houston.

Also, Johns said additional parishes in Louisiana could approve sports betting within a few years. In addition, he expressed doubt that a tax hike is coming on sports wagering in the state.

WATCH: What's Ahead For Gaming In Louisiana?

Texas Might Not Expand Gaming Until 2030s: Johns

A 75-year-old former Republican state senator, Johns noted that Louisiana has already gone 35 years with legalized commercial gaming, while Texas still doesn’t have it. Louisiana has since seen the build up of first-rate casino resorts in the state, he noted.

In Texas, sports betting and Las Vegas-style commercial casinos are prohibited. Efforts at the Texas Legislature to expand gaming have been unsuccessful. To date, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Currently, Louisiana benefits from Texans like “Mattress Mack" traveling next door to the Bayou State to gamble. Houston, the fourth most-populated city in the U.S., is only about two hours from Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Johns said he sees gaming expansion happening one day in Texas, the nation’s second most-populated state. However, that might not occur until well into the 2030s because of opposition from anti-gaming lawmakers and others, he said.

When it does happen, it will have a negative impact on Louisiana.

“We’re predicting a 50% decrease in state revenue, should that happen,” Johns said. “It’s going to be big.”

No Tax Hike On Sportsbooks, Some Parishes Might OK Sports Wagering

During the interview on “The Edge,” Johns also addressed other gaming-related issues facing Louisiana, including:

* A national conversation about an increase in sports betting taxes in some states

Johns said he has not heard any rumor or discussion about a tax hike in Louisiana on sports wagering.

“Sports betting’s been highly successful in Louisiana,” he said. “It’s actually brought in more money than projected. With that being said, I just don’t see any movement at this time to increase taxes.”

* Legalizing sports betting in the nine parishes where it is currently prohibited. 

Johns said he anticipates a public vote will occur in some of those parishes to legalize sports betting. Those nine parishes previously rejected sports betting, while 55 parishes approved it.

“I’m not sure that all nine will get there,” he said. “I predict over the next, say, four to five years you could probably have half of those attempting to approve sports betting again.”

* The implementation in Louisiana of online casino gaming, known as iGaming, allowing bettors to play casino games such as slots and craps on their smart phone or computer. 

Johns said there is a conversation in the state about the issue, but the casino industry itself is divided — some want it, others don’t. That sort of division makes legislative approval difficult, he said.

“The other aspect is going to be those legislators who view it as an expansion of gaming,” he said. “You’re going to have some pushback from some of the traditional Christian-based organizations, such as the Family Forum here in Louisiana and others who are traditionally anti-gaming.”

* More riverboat casinos moving their operations ashore. 

Johns said he does not think all 15 riverboat license holders will ultimately build casinos on land. A handful already have moved ashore or are in the process of becoming land-based.

“I see a point where we’re going to have a number of them do it,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where all 15 are going to do that. Just from the economic standpoint, is it feasible for them to do that?"

Author Image Article By
Last Updated: 
Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Linkedin Icon Email Icon Copy Link Icon