Louisiana To Texas: ‘Thanks' For Sending Your Gamblers To Us

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Louisiana To Texas: ‘Thanks' For Sending Your Gamblers To Us
© USA Today

Louisiana’s top gaming regulator on Thursday thanked next door neighbor Texas for its residents who spend money gambling in the Bayou State.

Louisiana sportsbooks and casinos are legal, but they're not in Texas. The Texas Legislature next year is again expected to consider bills to legalize gaming, after past efforts have failed. 

Meanwhile, Texans continue to cross the border to bet legally in Louisiana, especially in the Southwestern Louisiana gaming market dominated by Lake Charles.

Lake Charles Dominates Louisiana Gaming

At Thursday Louisiana Gaming Control Board meeting, Chairman Ronnie Johns noted that Lake Charles, with only two active casinos, is leading the state’s other areas in gaming revenue.

“I guess we have our neighbors in Texas to thank,” he said.

Lake Charles is only about 35 miles from the Texas border and a little more than two hours from Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, with a population of more than 2.3 million. Louisiana’s entire population is about 4.7 million. 

Texas is the nation’s second most populated state, with more than 29.7 million residents, about 10 million fewer than the largest state, California.

Louisiana's tax revenue is boosted by the Texans who cross the border on gambling trips. This influx has especially benefitted Lake Charles because of its proximity to Texas.

In September, the two riverboat casinos in Lake Charles reported adjusted gross revenue figures of $31.9 million (Golden Nugget) and $30.3 million (L’Auberge). These totals far outpace any casino in the larger gaming centers of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport-Bossier City.

Mattress Mack Wagers Millions In Louisiana

Among the Texans who regularly cross into Louisiana to place legal sports bets is Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, pictured, owner of Gallery Furniture in the Houston area. 

McIngvale has placed bets in Louisiana on various sporting events, including millions recently wagered on the Houston Astros to win this season’s World Series.

In placing these million-million dollar bets in Louisiana, McIngvale has used mobile apps, such as Caesars Sportsbook and WynnBET Sportsbook, and has wagered in person at the Barstool Sportsbook in the L’Auberge Lake Charles riverboat casino.

In the best-of-seven American League Championship series, the Astros are leading the New York Yankees, 1-0. 

The winner advances to the World Series to face the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies or San Diego Padres. The National League series is tied, 1-1.

Mobile Sports Betting On the Rise

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the Control Board approved a five-year Louisiana mobile sports betting license for WynnBet, which has been operating in the state on a temporary basis.

Johns stated his belief that Louisiana sports betting and casino revenue figures will increase with football season in full swing and especially now that all major professional sports are in action, including football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey.

“It could make for some interesting numbers for our state,” the chairman said.

In September, Louisiana’s eight mobile sportsbooks reported accepting a combined $175.9 million in wagers, compared to $112 million in August. The September handle was the highest in Louisiana since last April’s $186 million.

Since mobile sports betting began in January, the state has collected $7.29 million in taxes from online operators alone.

Tilman Fertitta OK'd For Las Vegas Strip Casino 

As the debate over legal gaming in Texas continues, Texan Tilman Fertitta, owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, is expanding his casino holdings in Nevada.

Fertitta, who owns the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, received approval from the Clark County Commission this week to construct a 43-story, 2,420-room hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The casino-lined Strip is in Clark County, outside Las Vegas city limits. 

Fertitta’s resort on the Strip will include convention space, restaurants, an auto showroom and a 2,500-seat theater.

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Larry Henry

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