The Louisiana Legislature on Thursday approved the final bill needed for sports betting to take place in the state. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is expected to sign the measure.
On a 33-3 vote, the Senate approved an amended version of Senate Bill 247 to regulate sports betting in Louisiana.
The measure allows for mobile sports betting on smartphones and computers. It also permits bettors to place in-person wagers inside casinos and racetracks at sportsbooks and kiosks. Bettors also will be allowed to use kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos.
If the governor signs the bill as expected, bettors will be able to put money down on professional and college games, but not high school sports and youth events. Bettors must be 21.
Bets only can be placed within the boundaries of a parish where sports betting is allowed. In November, voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes agreed to permit sports betting within the boundary of their parish. Anyone of betting age from the nine parishes that rejected sports betting can go into a parish where it is allowed and place a bet.
The governor already has signed an earlier measure, now known as Act No. 80, that sets fees and tax rates on sports betting. The tax rate will be 10 percent for on-site betting and 15 percent on bets made on mobile devices such as smartphones. The net tax rate applies to the money left over after the winning sports bettors have been paid.
The two-month legislative session began in April at the Capitol in Baton Rouge and ended Thursday.
Betting Possible by Football Season
Sports betting proponents are hopeful people will be able to bet on live sporting events in time for the football season in the fall. Football traditionally is a popular sport in Louisiana.
However, Rep. John Stefanski (R), who sponsored the tax bill, said the process to get the system going will take time.
I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘We passed this last year. Why can’t we make a bet right now?’” he told the Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette.
Stefanski said sports betting is possible by the fall, but “realistically, because of what it will take to build out the infrastructure on all of the components, we think it will be early 2022.”
College bowl and title games, as well as NFL playoff games and the Super Bowl, will take place early in the new year. NFL games usually are the most heavily bet sporting events in the nation.
When sports wagering is up and running, Louisiana will be the only state in the area with mobile sports betting.
In Texas, legal sports betting and casinos are not allowed.
The other two bordering states, Arkansas and Mississippi, allow betting at sportsbooks inside casinos but do not offer mobile wagering. In both states, bettors are allowed to wager on smartphone apps if the bet is placed on casino property. However, no casino in Arkansas or Mississippi provides that service, state regulators in both states told Casino.org.
Arkansas is home to three commercial casinos. Mississippi has 26 commercial casinos, with 12 of those on the Gulf Coast.