Around 1.3m people or 65 per cent of those that voted said yes to sports betting in Louisiana at the recent referendum.
The decision was allowed parish by parish in the state with 55 of 64 parishes voting yes and a handful of rural parishes in north Louisiana voting no. It is expected that the first bet will be placed within two years with legislators first having to iron out the detail, with the big question being whether to allow mobile betting.
The state’s 14 riverboat casinos, including Margaritaville Casino, L’Auberge Baton Rouge, Horseshoe Casino,Isle Lake Charles casino, Golden Nugget, Treasure Chest and L’Auberge Lake Charles, will be allowed to add sports books to their premises. As will the land-based Harrah’s New Orleans and the state’s four racinos.
Parishes without a casino could see other leisure and hospitality venues allowed sports betting.
Cameron Henry, who sponsored the proposal, said: “I see bars and restaurants really teaming up with in-state or out-of-state companies to say we’re going to be responsible for allowing your customers to do sports wagering. There is no need for Louisiana residents to drive to Mississippi to place a legal bet and have those revenues go to Mississippi. It’s pretty amazing, fantasy sports had only 47 parishes and now sports wagering has 55 parishes at well above 60 per cent favourability. Clearly times have changed when it comes to sports wagering. People are going to do this. People are going to bet on sports events. This allows them to do it in Louisiana and we can capture some of that revenue.”
He said lawmakers should consider a more open approach to betting than having to be in a casino ‘assuming that members are comfortable with the security protocols.’
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Noel of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board doesn’t believe the first bet will be placed before 2022.
He explained: “It’s just the way the process works. The legislature has to lay out the framework, and then the rule-making process is a four-to-six-month process. Once that happens, the entities that want to participate will have to apply and get licensed.”
State Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, said: “The reality is people are doing this now. They are doing it illegally. They are doing it from their phones.”
House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee said: “Everybody that knows the industry knows that if you don’t do mobile, it is not going to be much money. If you do mobile, it is.”
Wade Duty, Executive Director of the Casino Association of Louisiana, said that the amount of revenue, the new market will generate is dictated by the detail. “It is highly dependent on what model Louisiana would adopt. If you adopted a Mississippi model it is not a massive revenue engine. If you adopt a New Jersey model it is a significant addition. If lawmakers have a proper sense of urgency and keep the timeline within 12 months to 15 months and you are ready to launch by 2022 you have done a good job. And if you get the mobile component you have done a better job.”