Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed into a law a bill that sets an 8% tax on fantasy sports betting.
Fantasy Sports Tax Voted and Approved in Louisiana
Louisiana has managed to secure the legal framework necessary for the introduction of a fantasy sports tax nearly two years after 47 out of 64 state parishes approved the activity. The bill introduced by Representative John Stefanski was signed by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards during a special legislative session.
HB64 now determines the rate of taxation to be paid on all fantasy sports as 8%. The amount will be collected monthly and all funds collected this way will go to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund.
The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates that the bill should rake in at least $375,000 in tax money, although there was no specificity over what period. The bill’s passage was a resounding success with 82 representatives voting in favor and 11 votes against on June 17.
HB64 then transitioned to the Senate where it won another resounding approval and was finally signed by Gov. Edwards and became a law on July 13. HB64 is a continuation of a previous bill, HB357 which established the framework for regulated fantasy sports.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board set the licensing application fee at $100,000 and set some basic standards for participation. Anyone who wants to bet on fantasy sports must be of the legal age of 21.
Sports Betting on Louisiana’s Agenda
HB357 had a longer and somewhat more contested passage, sponsored by Representative Tanner Magee. Rep. Magee has managed to secure a bilateral support for the deal with 11 representatives from the Democratic and Republican Parties joining in.
While fantasy sports betting was originally approved back in 2018, during a referendum, a dispute in the exact tax rate of the bill led to a legislative impasse. Senator Daniel Martiny mothballed the bill and barred it from progressing without a clear direction on tax.
Should HB64 have failed to pass, voters would not have been able to place bets on fantasy sports legally in Louisiana until at least 2021. As it turns out, the state cannot work on tax legislation in non-fiscal years, unless a special session is organized.
However, Rep. Stefanski used the novel coronavirus outbreak, and the special session called, as an opportunity to call for the taxation of fantasy sports. By design, 2020 wasn’t supposed to be a fiscal year.
Next, Louisiana will look forward to legalizing sports betting. Gov. Edwards agreed to endorse a referendum that would run a parish-by-parish vote and let voters decide if they are willing to endorse sports betting.
The move is possible both thanks to the governor, but also the efforts of Senator J Cameron Henry who introduced SB130 and first called for a referendum. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s land-based casinos have already announced layoffs affecting at least 1,150 workers.