Louisiana State Sen. Barrow Peacock Q&A on DFS, Sports Betting

Louisiana State Sen. Barrow Peacock Q&A on DFS, Sports Betting

Louisiana is one of several states with gambling-related issues on the Nov. 3 ballot. In Louisiana’s case, the question will be whether to allow sports wagering.

The state already has riverboat and land-based casinos and race tracks, and daily fantasy sports was approved by the voters in 47 of 64 parishes in 2018, although DFS has not yet started in the state. Each parish votes on whether it wants to host a certain type of gambling.

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State Sen. Barrow Peacock, a Republican, has advocated on behalf of DFS and now sports wagering. He talks about the delay in implementing Daily Fantasy Sports and the prospects for sports wagering. The interview was lightly edited for flow and clarity.

Gambling.com (GDC): Daily Fantasy Sports has been approved in Louisiana for quite a while now, since 2018, but it has been held up from actually being implemented. What have been the impediments and when do you think that Louisianans will be able to participate in DFS?

Barrow Peacock: When we passed the law, the regulation and the taxation still had to be taken care of. In 2019, it was a year that we could work on taxation but it got held up with the negotiation back-and-forth so it wasn’t done until earlier this year in a special session where we were able to do the regulation of (DFS) and the taxation (at 8%). Right now, the regulatory rules are being worked on. Sometime this fall, we should have Daily Fantasy Sports running in the state of Louisiana.

GDC: Has the hold-up been frustrating?

BP: It is frustrating because the citizens of the state voted on it and if they would like to have fantasy sports, then it’s important for the legislature to do our job and to pass the regulatory part and the taxation of it. Taxing requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature. Even though the citizens voted (for DFS), that’s a very high threshold and there are still some in the legislature who, for various reasons, do not want us to have any expansion of gaming or gambling in Louisiana and they vote against the taxation of it so it cannot be implemented. But that was accomplished in the special session. … Now the Gaming Control Board is promulgating the rules, so it should be done in the fall.

GDC: There is a referendum on Nov. 3, parish-by-parish, on the question of more traditional sports wagering. Assuming it passes in some parishes, there are further steps that must be taken, what are those?

BP: The same as what happened with fantasy sports. When we come into session in April, we will have to do the regulatory part of sports wagering and also the tax rate that we would want to tax it at. It will be a session where we can deal with taxes and we’ll have to tax it at a reasonable level and also do the regulatory portion, too. After that, the Gaming Control Board can promulgate their rules and we can move forward. So hopefully, by this time next year, we’ll also have sports wagering.

GDC: Would the sports wagering in Louisiana be both retail (at existing casinos and race tracks) and also be digital, meaning people will be able to wager from home on computers and mobile devices, such as cell phones?

BP: That would be part of the regulatory legislation. (The vote) would authorize sports wagering but to what degree (it happens) is still to be determined by the legislation. Will it be just at the casinos and the race tracks? Or will it (include) the digital and mobile devices? That’s part of the legislative process that we will have to discuss next year … in spring 2021.

GDC: Some jurisdictions are also allowing wagering in actual sports facilities, so if New Orleans allows for sports wagering, would that mean that the Superdome and other sports facilities in the city might host sports books?

BP: The legislature is going to have to decide that and that might be proposed next year. I have not heard anyone talking about that but the legislature will decide, either in 2021 or in the future. … The Superdome will have a $400 million renovation project that will start in the spring.

GDC: How much tax revenue is being projected to be raised for the state should sports wagering be broadly approved?

BP: Of course, it has to be taxed at the appropriate level. There is a Spectrum Gaming report (that says) if we did full-blown sports wagering — casinos, race tracks, mobile devices — it could be up to $300 million (a year) to the state. But it really depends at what level the legislature decides — do they want it just at casinos and race tracks, or do they want to include mobile devices? And it also depends on competition in other states, too.

GDC: Obviously, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, many jurisdictions have seen the merits of licensing legitimate operators and regulating sports wagering. What are your views and observations on the benefits of legalizing sports wagering?

BP: We have to somewhat understand that this is already being done and I think when it is regulated and taxed at an appropriate level, it is probably much better for the consumer who is participating in sports wagering than doing it in an unregulated environment. And for those people who have an addiction problem, to have the state be able to say, “We know there is a problem here, let’s help our citizens who are having this problem,” there’s definitely (an advantage) … to being able to monitor it so that it does not cause problems.

It will also help our riverboats attract patrons from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. … I think it will help local governments with more tourism dollars coming to the state of Louisiana.

GDC: Understanding that the vote on sports wagering would be parish-by-parish, how do you judge the mood of the electorate on the subject of sports wagering, what do you hear from constituents?

BP: Some people who voted on the Daily Fantasy Sports contests thought they were voting on sports wagering. (DFS was approved in 47 of 64 parishes). I think we’ll have similar results around the state of Louisiana, parish-by-parish. Of course, we’ll have a bigger turnout because it’ll be on a presidential ballot as opposed to the 2018 election. So, we’re going to have very good (idea) of where Louisiana stands on sports wagering and we’re going to have to wait and see until Nov. 3 for the results, but I imagine it will be similar to what happened with daily fantasy sports contests.