Senate in Louisiana Says Yes to Sports Betting Legalization

In Louisiana, the state Senate has agreed to endorse a sports betting bill that would allow the state to hold a parish-by-parish referendum and legalize sports betting.

Louisiana Senate Endorses Sports Betting: Up to House to Move Next

With sports hitting a poor bottom line throughout March and April, Louisiana lawmakers have not been dissuaded from pursuing a course towards the legalization of sports betting. The state’s Senate passed a bill with an overwhelming majority (29-8) on Wednesday, sending the legislation for revision to the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives will have until June 1 to either approve the bill or send it back to the Senate for re-drafting. If the necessary majority of parishes lands its support for the move, lawmakers will convene next year to pass additional bills to set out the specifics and taxation of betting contests in the state.

The piece of legislation in question, SB130, has been proposed by Senator J. Cameron Henry, who wants to conduct a parish-by-parish referendum and garner popular support before any specific laws are put in place.

The senator will include the question during the U.S. Presidential Elections held on November 3, 2020. Here is what he had to say:

“I know that sports wagering is a sensitive issue for a lot of folks, which is why we put it in this format here. You will be able to look at results of what your constituents want you to do as it relates to sports wagering going forward. It is the safest way to get this done.

“You can come back and say, ‘Cameron, my folks love sports wagering. We’re all for it. I can help you with passing the tax and regulations.’ Or you’re going to come back and say, ‘Cameron, my folks don’t like it so I can’t really help you on it.”

Upon success, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and lawmakers will set out rules for regulation, licensing and tax and complete those by the end of the legislative session in 2021.

While some would like to see sports betting arrive earlier, it would be impossible to usher wagering on sports any earlier due to the nature of tax rules which require regulation first.

Odds of Regulating Sports Looking Good

Even with some difficulties looming, Louisiana has a good track record with betting activities. Back in 2018, 47 out of 64 parishes agreed to back a regulation and tax on daily fantasy sports.

However, political bickering between Senator Daniel Martiny and Senator Kirk Talbot killed the momentum. Previously, Talbot introduced a bill that was very similar to the text in the one proposed by Senator Henry (SB66). Lawmakers this time, though, seem determined to see the bill through.

Senator Ronnie Johns, an author of another bill (SB332) is also backing Senator Henry. Johns is a co-author of the bill. While much remains unclear about the future, including the current lockdown and political climate, sports betting continues to be on track in terms of legalization momentum.

Louisiana is also reportedly planning to re-open its casinos on Monday, May 18, the first state to do so. 

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