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Louisiana House committee advances sports betting bill

Louisiana state legislature

The Bayou is one step closer to offering legal sports betting.

The Louisiana House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice voted 11-6 to advance SB 153 on Tuesday, which would legalize sports betting at the state’s casinos, riverboats, and racetracks if passed.

The sports betting bill for Louisiana still needs to clear more legislative committees for review, including the House budget committee, before it would be sent to the House floor for a final vote.

Louisiana will have legal sports betting if…

  1. The House passes the bill with 53 votes
  2. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signs the bill
  3. A majority of voters (by parish) approve the Oct. 12 election ballot measure

If the bill clears the rest of the committee hurdles — and if the measure survives those three steps — then sports betting would be allowed in the parishes that received a majority vote.

Licensed sportsbook operators would be allowed to offer sports betting starting on Jan. 1, 2020.

Last November during the 2018 midterms, 47 out of 64 parishes approved a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) ballot measure, which state lawmakers said at the time would be used to gauge interests in possibly legalizing sports betting in the future.

State Sen. Danny Martiny (R) is the sponsor of the bill and had his legislation cleared a significant hurdle on April 30 when the Louisiana Senate passed his sports betting bill with a 24-15 vote.

“This is an industry that currently operates underground. It’s here,” Martiny said when asked why Louisiana should legalize sports betting. “We have all of the ills of (sports) gaming, but none of the benefits, none of the financial benefits.”

The current Louisiana legislative session ends on June 6, so lawmakers have until then to approve the bill.

Tax rate and licensing fee

The Louisiana House Appropriations Committee approved HB 587 on Monday with a 12-9 vote, which would set a 13% tax rate on net revenue from wagers placed on college and professional sports betting.

The bill heads to the House floor and will need 70 votes for approval. If sports betting is legalized with SB 153, then HB 587 would need to be approved for Louisiana to have the tax rate and regulatory framework necessary to allow bets on sports within the state.

The 13% tax rate on sports betting would be split up and go to the following:

  • 10% – Early Childhood Education Fund
  • 2% – Sports betting-approved parishes
  • 1% (up to $500k) – Compulsive and Problem Gaming Fund

*Anything over $500k for the Compulsive and Problem Gaming Fund goes to the Early Childhood Education Fund

Lawmakers have not included a specific amount for licensing fees in the bill’s current form, but today’s hearing suggested it would be $100,000.

The bill states revenue from licenses would go to the Louisiana State Police to fund background checks on sportsbook operators and personnel. This cost is estimated to be $2 million, so the $100,000 licensing fee from the 20 eligible operators would cover that expense.

Louisiana sports betting bill details

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board will oversee all sports betting regulations and issue licenses to approved applicants.

Here are the specifics for the Louisiana sports betting bill should it pass in its current form:

  • Eligible for license: 15 riverboat casinos, 1 land-based, and 4 racetracks
  • Minimum sports betting age: 21 and up
  • Licensing fee: $100,000 license (pending)
  • Tax rate: 13%
  • Mobile: Only from the “facility’s gaming area”
  • Sports allowed: College, professional, and Olympics
  • Sports not allowed: High school sports, esports, and competitive video games
  • Estimated revenue: $30-60 million
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