2021? More like “20-20-won” for Louisiana sports betting because the state finally got it off the ground!
2021 was also a year of a continuing pandemic, hurricanes, and more. The casino revenue rollercoaster rose year-over-year for several months following an estimated $830+ million pandemic downturn last year. Then revenues dipped again post hurricanes.
In case you’ve missed something, here is a run down of the past year in gaming news.
A pelican’s-eye view of 2021
Dedicating his victory to his late mom, Metairie native Joseph Hebert wins $1,553,256 and a seat in the finale of the 10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, aka the WSOP Main Event. Argentinian player Damian Salas beats Hebert in the international final matchup.
At the start of a popcorn-worthy saga that will last almost a year, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) locates a promising spot in St. Tammany Parish. There, the company would like to transfer its DiamondJacks casino license. Lawsuits and a petition counter the proposal.
The month’s gaming figures come in like a lion: a 132% year-over-year increase in casino/racino gaming revenue despite being down two riverboats.
The Louisiana House enthusiastically passes H 697 with a 77-24 vote, setting the sports betting tax rates at 15% mobile and 10% retail.
The Louisiana Senate passes a regulatory bill that creates 20 sports betting licenses, allowing partnerships with no more than two online skins.
The three-bill package consisting of HB 697, SB 142, and SB 247, all sports betting bills, becomes law when signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
It’s a good bet that no one has foreseen all the curveballs and delays just ahead even though Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chair Mike Noel suddenly resigned earlier in the month. The wait for a replacement will kick sports betting back on the calendar.
Hurricane Claudette, the third tropical storm of the season, but not the worst, causes Jun. casino revenues to dip from May figures. They still increase year-over-year, however.
With the pandemic continuing, Jul. 14 brings the first Louisiana lottery drawing for “Shot at a Million” for vaccinated people.
The Saints’ home gets a new name: Caesars Superdome.
And the month closes with a newly appointed Gaming Control Board chair, Ronnie Johns, who resigns his Senate position.
Shreveport goes smoke-free, including in casinos.
The Gaming Control Board unanimously approves temporary sports betting regulations.
Powerball drawings come in threes beginning Aug. 23 as Monday night drawings are added to those on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But the opening night doesn’t go quite as planned.
Harrah’s New Orleans and the Saints institute proof of vaccination requirements for guests and attendees.
And finally, on Aug. 29, category 4 Hurricane Ida makes landfall with devastating 150 mph winds and torrential rain. Twenty-six Louisianans lose their lives.
In Ida’s aftermath, P2E sends volunteers with meals, water bottles, and ice to St. Tammany Parish. The governor orders a postponement of the scheduled Nov. 13 referendum concerning P2E’s proposal until Dec. 11.
The Isle of Capri Casino gets rebranded as Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles.
Paragon Casino Resort takes the first in-person sports bet, edging out retail casinos because tribal casinos don’t require state license approval.
Halloween brings in-person retail sports betting when Caesars Sportsbook opens at Harrah’s New Orleans and Horseshoe Casino.
And Rubico Acquisition Corp. purchases the historic Louisiana Downs.
By the end of the month, nine casinos offer in-person sports betting and three online sportsbooks announce pre-launch offers.
Despite a vigorous and costly campaign by P2E, 63% of St. Tammany voters resoundingly reject the proposed casino license transfer to Slidell.
Evangeline Downs opens a FanDuel Sportsbook in Louisiana.
The year ends with still no online sports betting, but the consensus (and maybe some hints from Ronnie Johns) seems to be: It is in sight.
And if Nov. sports betting revenues indicate what’s to come, it will prove a boost for Louisiana casinos and gaming-tax beneficiaries like education.
Happy New Year and stay tuned!