When it rains, it pours.
Until October, you couldn’t bet legally on sports in Louisiana. Now legal sports betting is accessible everywhere you look, it seems.
In New Orleans, in Bossier City, in Lake Charles. At some tribal casinos and some commercial casinos. On cell phones and laptops since online sports betting in LA went live as of Jan. 28.
And January also saw the opening of two more retail sportsbooks. The latest at Sam’s Town and Amelia Belle, brings the state’s total to 13.
Shreveport, Louisiana gets a retail sportsbook
Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino held a grand opening for its FanDuel Sportsbook on Jan. 14. That goes down in the sportsbooks as Shreveport’s first sportsbook.
The 1,466 square feet location offers several self-service betting terminals. Also, three live betting windows, video displays, and guest seating.
If Boyd Gaming, Sam’s Town’s owner, rings a bell, that’s likely because Boyd operates several properties in the state besides Sam’s Town, including:
- Treasure Chest – Kenner
- Amelia Belle – Amelia
- Delta Downs – Vinton
- Evangeline Downs – Opelousas
All five Boyd properties in Louisiana now offer sports betting via FanDuel.
Michael Pastore, vice president and general manager of Sam’s Town spoke proudly of his property’s sportsbook to KSLA on the day of the balloon-decorated ribbon-cutting:
“It’s been a long time in the making. It’s the first in the market that actually has a lounge where you can make a bet. You can make a bet, sit back, relax, enjoy the game, and grab a cold beer, grab some good stadium food, and enjoy.”
Jan. 13 was the opening day of the sportsbook at Amelia Belle, part of a “staggered opening” by Boyd of its new sportsbooks. The Amelia Belle FanDuel sportsbook offers self-service kiosks, a video wall with a sports ticker, and multiple TV screens.
Retail sports betting, now in only its fourth full month in Louisiana, has already proved to be a boon for the state’s economy and tax revenues. Retail sportsbooks brought in $39.5 million in December.
Sports betting taxes for November and December combined brought in almost $438,000.
Online sports betting finally arrives and with it, concerns
With some of the available 20 retail sports betting licenses still in the offing even with the launches at Sam’s Town and Amelia Belle, mobile sports betting in LA finally launched on Jan. 28. It arrived after quite a wait for sports betting fans.
Voters in 55 parishes gave their approval of the activity in November of 2020. Delays caused by a surprise Louisiana Gaming Control Board resignation and last August’s Hurricane Ida kept the kickoff of sports betting at bay.
Now with the advent of mobile sports betting has come worries about a possible accompanying increase in problem gambling. The Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling (LACG) calls it “an invisible addiction.”
According to WVUE, Janet Miller, executive director of the LACG, expressed further concerns, saying:
“We know that there are going to be probably higher numbers of people who have problems in the months ahead and certainly in probably two years. We have seen that during the pandemic more people have been looking and leaning towards alcohol use and gambling venues and ways to gamble and certainly online was one of them.”
Miller also pointed out that:
“The access to gambling is immediate and in real-time, so that it can, for some people, make that quicker, easier access possibly could go into a problem.”
Geofencing blocks mobile betting in the nine parishes that voted against it in the 2020 referendum.