It looks like Louisiana might be after a new world record. It obviously wants to be known as the state that made history by taking the most amount of time to pass sports gambling legislation. Lawmakers aren’t to blame completely, though, as the state has always had a laissez-faire attitude. That’s what makes Louisiana, Louisiana.
Progress is being made to bring legal sports gambling to the state, but there’s no guarantee that it will happen within the next couple of years. Senate Bill (SB) 153 made it passed a Senate vote on April 30 when it was approved by a vote of 24-15, and now must go before the House of Representatives.
If the bill survives in its current form, 16 casinos and four horse race tracks in the state would be allowed to open sportsbooks. Mobile wagers would also be authorized, but only by those brick-and-mortar facilities that operate sportsbooks.
College sporting events would be eligible for bets, but high school sports are off limits. That’s good news for gamblers and sportsbooks, since wagers on football and basketball games at Louisiana State University are more popular than those on the New Orleans Saints of the NFL.
SB 153 doesn’t offer the final decision on sports gambling, though. A voter initiative in each of the state’s parishes—there are 64 total—would be the deciding factor, with each parish able to determine its sports gambling fate. The parishes would need to have a ballot entry ready for this coming November for a vote to be held to see sports gambling make it to Louisiana in 2020.
Between now and then, expect anti-gambling groups, such as the Louisiana Family Forum, to step up their fight against legalized gambling. Because, of course, the members of those groups would rather spend time away from their families in a fight they can’t win, instead of spending time with their families.
If lawmakers can’t reach a consensus by June 6, when the current legislative session ends, it will be at least another two years before legal sports gambling comes to the state. But, if it doesn’t happen now, it’ll happen—eventually.