Louisiana lawmakers easily passed an online and sports betting regulation bill Thursday that could bring the state’s first legal sportsbooks as early as this fall.
The Louisiana House passed the bill 78-15 with widespread bipartisan support. The Senate passed the same bill 31-6 last month.
The bill features full online wagering, no in-state college betting ban, and the potential for as many as 40 online sportsbooks.
The House adopted several minor technical amendments before Thursday’s vote that will require Senate concurrence, but that shouldn’t be an issue. The regulation bill will join the companion taxation bill already awaiting the signature of Gov. John Bel Edwards, which should also be a formality; Edwards has largely supported legal sports betting and a possible veto would face more than enough votes to be overridden.
This should allow regulators to begin preparing for a sportsbook launch as early as this fall. Significant licensing and regulatory work remains, but stakeholders are hoping for a 2021 go-live date for online and retail sportsbooks in football-crazy Louisiana.
Key Bill Details
The state’s lone land-based casino, 15 riverboat casinos and four horse tracks can all partner with two sportsbook operators apiece, meaning there could be as many as 40 total skins. Each gaming entity can also open a retail sportsbook at their respective brick-and-mortar facilities.
A previous bill allows the Louisiana Lottery to also take mobile bets and partner with video poker licensed establishments including bars, restaurants, truck stops and off-track betting parlors to open betting kiosks similar to the thousands of video poker terminals already available statewide.
Mobile sportsbooks can only operate in the 55 parishes that approved legal wagering on the state’s 2020 ballot measure. That includes all of the state’s dozen-most populated parishes and the vast majority of its overall population.
Online and retail sportsbooks would be taxed 15% and 10% of gross gaming revenues, respectively, a similar rate as most other sports betting states. The initial operator application fee is $250,000 and sportsbooks would also pay a $500,000 licensing fee that’s good for five years.
There’s no in-state college betting ban, meaning Louisiana bettors can wager on the LSU Tigers football team. Eligible bettors age 21 and up physically located in an approved parish can also wager from their mobile devices without having to complete registration in-person at a brick-and-mortar gaming facility.
It’s too early to tell which sportsbooks will enter the state but all major brands are expected to be interested in the market. Caesars, Barstool Sportsbooks, Golden Nugget, TwinSpires and B Connected all have parent company partners that operate at least one Louisiana gaming facility and will all likely seek market access.
What Comes Next
Louisiana officials must finalize sports betting rules and then license each individual sportsbook, a process that will take several months. Officials have not given a firm timeline for a go-live date, but proponents are hoping for a launch sometime this fall.
Lawmakers included a provision in the final bill that will allow temporary licenses, which should help sportsbooks launch more quickly. Like lawmakers, future sportsbook operators are pushing to go live in football season, perennially the most lucrative time of the year nationwide and likely even more so in Louisiana.
Louisiana sports betting won’t begin for several more months but Thursday’s bill passage marked a major step toward the first legal bet.