Louisianans weren’t able to be grateful for online sports betting in time for Thanksgiving. Instead, Chair Ronnie Johns projected the third month of the upcoming year as a possible launch time at November’s Gaming Control Board meeting.
Even with on-property sports betting already happening, the online rollout remains pending and will take longer than retail has endured for several reasons. However,
“That’s where the real, true interest is,” Johns noted, calling online sports wagering “the number one question.”
Johns said at the meeting:
“We want to get there as quickly as we can, but we’re going to do it the right way.”
“I said January 2022 is a goal. Look, it may be March of 2022 when it all rolls out.”
“Real challenges ahead”
Johns had mentioned that possibility earlier at a webinar panel with other regulators, saying, “Our goal for online is that we go live in early 2022, but there are some real challenges ahead for us.”
Eight retail casinos have already received temporary licenses and started taking sports bets, but licensing online sports gaming is more complicated. Johns attributed it to “the nature of the beast.”
The Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division had already thoroughly vetted the eight brick-and-mortar casinos receiving sports wagering licenses so far. So then they only needed to re-vet, a faster process, once Gov. John Bel Edwards signed sports betting into law, and delays — like damage wrought by Hurricane Ida — had passed or administered.
However, with online sports providers, state police have to scrutinize operations they haven’t before, and those applicants require a thorough review, as well.
Plus, nine of the state’s parishes voted against online betting in November 2020. Geofencing technology — called “incredible” by Johns — must be installed in these counties so that online sports betting won’t be accessible there:
- West Carroll
More retail sports betting in the offing
With Margaritaville and Boomtown casinos opening up their sportsbooks most recently, the total of Louisiana casinos offering sports wagering has reached nine. Eight of those are commercial casinos, and one — Paragon Casino Resort — doesn’t fall under state jurisdiction as a tribal casino and didn’t require Board licensing. The six other casinos now offering sports wagering are:
- Boomtown Casino and Hotel New Orleans
- Golden Nugget Lake Charles
- Harrah’s New Orleans
- Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel and Casino
- L’Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge
- L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles
At the Board meeting, Johns joked that with the advent, finally, of sports betting at some casinos, his phone has not rung as much as it had the last two months. He also spoke of statewide reports that,
“Everything has gone off very smoothly and without a hitch” and called it a “real testament” to work done by the state police, the attorney general’s office, and the staff of the Board.
According to Major Chuck McNeal of the Gaming Enforcement Division, seven more applications for retail sportsbooks are awaiting approval, and five other casinos are eligible to submit applications. He was present at the Board meeting.
There is such a thing as a free bet
Here are some good online sports wagering news, though: Even though online sports betting still only beckons down the road, FanDuel, DraftKings, Betfred and Caesars Sportsbook have put forth pre-launch free bet offers.