The Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday approved emergency rules to speed up the start of sports betting in the state.
Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns said sport betting could start during football season this year, according to the Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette. Johns previously said sports betting probably would not start until early 2022.
“This has been the No. 1 question asked of me: When is sports betting coming?” Johns said. “We are behind our neighbor in Mississippi, but we’re going to try to catch up quickly.”
Mississippi is home to 26 commercial casinos. On-site sports betting is legal is Mississippi.
In Louisiana, voters during last November’s election approved sports betting in 55 of 64 parishes. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed legislation this summer authorizing sports betting in those parishes. However, legal sports betting cannot occur until the Control Board sets the rules to regulate and tax the industry.
When those rules are set, sports betting will be allowed on mobile devices, such as smartphones, and in-person at casino sportsbooks. Bettors also will be able to wager on live sporting events by using kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
In Louisiana, 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos are in operation. Another riverboat casino, the Isle of Capri, came unmoored during a hurricane last year and struck a bridge. It is scheduled to reopen in 2022 as a land-based resort named the Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles.
The emergency rules that the Control Board approved are valid for 180 days, the newspaper reported. Permanent rules are expected to be in place before the 180 days are up.
Because of the popularity of football in Louisiana, sports betting proponents are hopeful wagering will be allowed at some point during the season.
Several universities, including the LSU Tigers, have active fan bases throughout the state. The NFL’s New Orleans Saints also attract statewide attention. The Saints’ preseason schedule already is underway. The regular season for the Saints, and for LSU, kicks off in September.
Last week, the Saints were in the news regarding attendance in the 73,000-seat Caesars Superdome. According to a city mandate, the only fans who will be allowed to attend games in the Superdome are those who wear face coverings and show proof of a vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
After complaints from fans and public officials, the Saints this week announced they will provide refunds to season ticket holders who give up their tickets.
Jerry Jones Predicts Texas Wagering
Once sports wagering is underway in Louisiana, it will be the only state in the region with wagering being done on mobile devices. In Arkansas, sports betting takes place in the state’s three commercial casinos, but not on smartphones.
Texas does not have casinos and has not yet legalized sports betting.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last month that legal sports betting is inevitable in Texas. Under a time line that would require legislative approval and a public vote, legal sports betting could not occur in Texas until 2025 at the earliest, according to news reports.