Emergency Rules Approved: Louisiana (Retail) Sports Betting Eyes Sept. Launch

Posted on August 19, 2021 - Last Updated on January 26, 2022

Abraham Lincoln once said he would prepare, and someday his chance would come. After regulators approved a set of emergency regulations for sports betting in 55 parishes Thursday, it looks like the coming Louisiana sportsbooks launch will bring that someday to the prepared.

At least on the brick-and-mortar side, some sportsbooks in the Pelican State might actually start taking bets as soon as the middle of next month.

However, it’s too early to tell which potential sportsbooks might get that head start.

Emergency rules clear way for Louisiana sportsbooks launch

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board unanimously approved the temporary regulations on Thursday. The rules take effect immediately and will stand for at least the next 180 days.

If the permanent regulations aren’t ready by early February, the LGCB can renew them for another 180 days. Before the expiration of that term, however, a permanent set of rules will need to take their place.

The upside is this allows the control board to try to walk and chew gum at the same time. While working on a fixed set of regulations, it can also consider license applications under the temporary provisions.

It seems that preference under the emergency regulations will go to applicants from among the state’s 20 gambling facilities. Those are 15 riverboat casinos, four racetracks and land-based Harrah’s New Orleans.

The understanding also seems to be some of those are more prepared to hit the ground running with retail sports betting than others. However, there’s little indication of which are in better positions right now.

Difficult to handicap this field right now

The executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, Wade Duty, expressed confidence that at least some of those 20 gambling establishments could be ready to take bets by “mid-September.” If that’s the case, then they might only miss the start of the New Orleans Saints season by a week or two.

Duty was clear that only applied to in-person wagering, though. It isn’t yet certain what that could look like right away. Some operations might be quite bare-bones just to get up and running.

The retail operations could also vary from one location to the next depending on the amount of space available to dedicate to sports betting. For example, at Harrah’s, which is already undergoing a remodel, that situation might call for a temporary setup for sports betting.

Also making this a frantic situation for some LA gambling centers is that few have announced sports betting partnerships. Harrah’s would seem to have an inside track there because of its connection to Caesars.

Riverboats in the state that partner with Boom Entertainment might be on equal footing there, too. Rush Street Interactive, which runs the BetRivers Sportsbook in many jurisdictions, bought a minority stake in Boom Entertainment earlier this month.

That minority stake also gave Rush Street access to sports betting in Louisiana. Many more similar partnerships could be forthcoming for other properties in the Pelican State.

Duty also said that some casinos have license applications ready to go. He declined to denote which, though. Over the next few weeks, that should become apparent.

Photo by AP / Gail Burton
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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