Louisiana’s Sports Gambling Market Advances after Governor Signs Legislation

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Louisiana is closing in on the launch of a legal and regulated sports gambling market. State lawmakers have been working on several measures for the past couple of years to introduce the activity, but progress has been painfully slow. The first real step was getting residents to approve sports gambling and, when that happened late last year, legislators picked up the pace on establishing the legal framework. Everything is progressing and a major hurdle was crossed yesterday when Governor John Bel Edwards signed one of two bills needed to bring sports gambling to the state.

Louisiana Closing In On Sports Gambling

Soon, Texas is going to be surrounded by sports gambling states, giving it another reason to be known as the Lone Star State. Louisiana’s governor just signed off on House Bill 697 (HB 697) yesterday, and the next step is to have another bill, Senate Bill 247 (SB 247), signed, as well. That bill has been accepted by the House, but the chamber made several changes that the Senate will need to approve before Governor Edwards can be given the chance to sign it. Both bills have been making their way through the legislative obstacle course for the past couple of months. Another bill, Senate Bill 142, addresses tax revenue and still needs to be approved by the House.

There is still work to be done and it would be virtually impossible for Louisiana to see sportsbooks begin to take wagers by the start of the upcoming NFL season. That means the state won’t be able to capture the revenue stream sports gambling activity could offer, but should be able to start seeing some benefits before the end of the NFL season. Because provisional licenses have been authorized, subject to final approval, it would be easier for online sportsbooks to begin operating in the state.

Louisiana Could Have a Robust Sports Gambling Market

HB 697 has attempted to address sports gambling from every angle to ensure the state has a solid and viable framework. It would allow the Louisiana Lottery Corporation to authorize sports gambling and to tax the activity, adhering to a schedule for permits, fees and other items established through the legislation. Sportsbooks would have to pay a 10% on net proceeds at retail sportsbooks and 15% for their online operations. Net proceeds, according to the bill, would be calculated on the gross revenue of bets, minus the winnings paid and any promotional play.

The bill also creates the “Sports Wagering Enforcement Fund,” which would be held by the Louisiana Department of Treasury. This fund, which could only be accessed through legislative order, would be used to help cover expenses of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, the Department of Justice and the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. Any request for access must justify the use of the funds as they relate to gaming enforcement or operations.

To operate a sportsbook in the state, companies will need to pay $250,000 for the application fee. If approved, the license fee, which is valid for five years, will cost another $500,000. Online sportsbook permits will cost another $100,000 for the application and $250,000 for a platform provider permit. Once the market is established, it should prove very lucrative, with conservative estimates putting the value at around $20 million a year. Others, however, predict as much as $50 million annually.

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