Sports gambling in Louisiana has taken another step closer to becoming a legal activity. The Louisiana Senate has successfully approved, by a vote of 29-8, a measure that will put the subject on the ballot for voters to consider this coming November. No one could be happier than New Orleans, also known as The Big Easy, which has been itching to get into the legal sports gambling market for some time.
Senate Bill 130 (SB 130) was presented by Senator Cameron Henry and has been making its way through the legislative obstacle course, receiving considerable support along the way. A Senate judiciary committee overwhelmingly approved SB 130 earlier this month, which makes the fact that eight Senators voted against the measure last week a clear indication of political influence against the efforts of legislators to improve the state’s economy.
SB 130 works a little differently than what has been found in other states where sports gambling has been legalized. While certain states left the decision up to voters, like was the case in Colorado, those initiatives required majority support of the entire voting population for sports gambling to be legalized. In Louisiana, though, each parish will be able to determine whether or not it wants the activity. The bill asserts, “If a majority of qualified electors in the parish voting on the proposition vote for the proposition, then sports wagering activities and operations shall be permitted in such parish only after state laws providing for the licensing, regulation, and taxation of such activity and operations are enacted and become effective.”
There are 64 parishes in the Pelican State, which means 64 chances to see legalized sports gambling. Before the public weighs in on the measure, though, the Louisiana House of Representatives will need to sign off on SB 130. If it approves, the chances of the state’s 50 gaming properties, a mix of commercial and tribal gaming venues and racetracks, will certainly work overtime to convince the local populations that allowing sports gambling would be a good thing for the communities.
Of course, they’re going to have to go to battle against opponents who will argue that legalized gambling will fuel more gambling addiction problems – despite the fact that there is still no concrete evidence to support those claims. On the contrary, it’s an established truth that gamblers are going to gamble, regardless of whether it is legal or illegal. By legalizing any gambling activity, better controls can be implemented to help those with gambling problems.
If previous gambling measures in Louisiana are any indication, sports gambling has a good chance of seeing daylight in the state. In 2018, residents in 47 parishes voted for the legalization of daily fantasy sports. However, because legislators couldn’t figure out to tax the activity, the measure subsequently died. With sports gambling, lawmakers will have hopefully become smarter and will be able to figure out how to implement tax and regulatory structures, just like so many other states have already been able to do.