Gambling proponents in Louisiana are scrambling to gather support for the legalization of sports betting in the state and break Mississippi’s monopoly in the southeastern United States.
State lawmakers have expressed concerns that Louisiana will fall farther behind Mississippi, which started taking its first-ever legal sports bets last week, according to the Monroe News Star.
Senator Danny Martiny called on his colleagues to pass his bill seeking to regulate sports wagering in Louisiana, warning that the state will lose money to its neighbors—and not just Mississippi.
Martiny pointed out the possibility that Arkansas may approve legal sports wagering at its racetracks, while Oklahoma’s Indian tribes may also allow sports betting in their facilities. When this happens, the Louisiana senator said the New Orleans market will take the full brunt of these developments.
“It’s not so much how much money the industry and state would gain (through additional taxes), but how much we’re going to lose,” Martiny said, according to the news outlet.
Earlier this year, proponents were very much optimistic about the future of Louisiana’s gambling market after lawmakers introduced several gambling bills aiming to legalize sports betting, online gambling, and daily fantasy sports, while also rewriting the state’s antiquated casino law.
Martiny introduced SB 266, which would have allowed sports betting at the Harrah’s casinos in New Orleans, as well as in 15 riverboat casinos around the state. Unfortunately, the Senate Finance Committee thumbed down the bill in a 6-3 vote.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards considered supporting legalized sports wagering, but ultimately decided to prioritize more urgent bills, such as tax-related proposals that would shore up the state’s financial coffers and address the budget crisis.
Edwards, however, signed a bill ordering riverboat casinos to move onto land by next year. Louisiana’s Gaming Control Board is drafting policies that will pave the way for the transfer of riverboat casinos.
There’s always next year for Louisiana’s sports betting bill, according to Martiny. However, he wasn’t optimistic that legal wagering will be available anytime soon.
“I think at the very earliest it will be two-and-a-half to three years before we could get it up and running,” Martiny said. “And even if we do it’s restricted by a limitation of (space) within the casinos.”