Sports gamblers may have to wait until 2022 to legally bet in Louisiana

Voters in most parishes supported the legalization of sports gambling last Nov. 3, but it may be 2022 by the time bettors are legally allowed to wager in Louisiana on football and other games.

With 55 of the 64 parishes voting in favor of the proposal, legislators will use this spring’s session to set tax rates and create a plan for betting on sporting events.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board will then create a regulatory model for gamblers and bet takers to use. Board chairman Mike Noel says he expects the rules to be similar to ones recently approved for fantasy sports betting.

Noel says the State Police’s gaming enforcement division will begin taking applications from fantasy sports operators after the rules are published Feb. 20. The gaming board decided last year that it would levy an 8% tax on the net revenue from fantasy gambling to help fund early childhood education. Louisiana was one of only seven states that did not allow fantasy sports betting in 2020. 

Louisianans eager to bet on real sports hope that legislators and the board will not take as long to create the rules this time. 

Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, sponsored the bill that legalized sports betting, and he expects lawmakers to have a plan before the Legislature gathers in April for a two-month session.

“I will assure you that we will have an agreement between all parties before the Legislature in April with the final proposal,” Johns says. “There is absolutely a lot of discussion going on right now, among all parties involved.” 

One key decision will be whether to allow online gambling or limit betting to in-person gambling on casino grounds. If the legislators approve online gaming, the gaming board will have to set up geolocation borders, technology that would keep the apps from working in the nine parishes that did not approve the betting.

“I’ve personally looked at the mechanism of geofencing, and it’s a very safe way of regulating gaming and betting,” Johns says. “The technology has been proven in many other states.”

 In the two-and-a-half years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 ruling against state-authorized sports gambling, 20 states have legalized sports betting. Louisiana and five other states have passed legislation and are working toward taking their first bet.

This story was first published by Manship School News Service.