Close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes. While LA Gov. John Bel Edwards has made two Louisiana Gaming Board appointments, but one vacant position nearly nullifies the body’s effectiveness in terms of moving forward on legal Louisiana sports betting.
Since the LA Gaming Control Board’s last chair, Mike Noel, resigned on June 9, the wait for a new chair has put the quick implementation of the gambling expansion in doubt. Even when Edwards does name his selection, the board won’t be able to get to work immediately.
Two new Louisiana Gaming Board appointments
On Friday, Edwards announced his picks to fill two spots on the board. One is actually a renewal rather than a new appointment. Claude D. Jackson of Rodessa will serve another term on the board, representing the state’s 4th Congressional district. He owns the Space Walk of Rodessa, which rents inflatables.
The other appointee, for LA’s 1st Congressional District, is Ashley Anderson Traylor. The Hammond resident is an attorney. This will be her first term on the board. With these appointments, the board is full, except for the chair.
A spokesperson for Edwards says that he is working on finding a person to fill that spot. Noel stepped down last month, ahead of a scheduled LA Senatorial confirmation hearing. Noel worked as a State Police official in 2019 when Black motorist Ronald Greene died. That matter is still under federal investigation. Questions about Noel’s role in the investigation might have come up during the hearing.
Until the Board is full, it will be difficult for the body to fulfill its obligations under the law. In terms of rolling out legal sports betting in LA, the vacancy is effectively crippling.
Why sportsbooks can’t launch until the Gaming Board acts
Louisianans voted to legalize sports betting in 55 parishes last year, right? So why is it so essential that the full LAGCB meets before sportsbooks can go live in those parishes?
The ballot measure and the resulting legislation aren’t comprehensive when it comes to regulating sports betting in LA. A document containing all rules necessary to govern that activity in the relevant parishes is necessary.
State law charges the LAGCB with drafting those regulations. Among other things, those regs will lay out technical standards and practices for renewing licenses. In addition, the Board will distribute and review license application forms.
There are emergency provisions in state law that could enable the Board to implement a provisional set of rules rather quickly, then finalize them later. To do even that, though, the Board needs a chair. Every day that goes by puts a potential launch of LA sportsbooks in time for the next NFL season in jeopardy.
That’s probably too optimistic at this point even if Edwards names a replacement today, however. The hour is already very late and other work remains.
Can LA sportsbooks still be up in time for football?
Right now, that looks like a Hail Mary situation. As previously mentioned, a Senate hearing is necessary to confirm Edwards’ appointment. The Board can do some limited work but nothing really significant while waiting for that confirmation. It’s not certain how quickly that would happen.
Then there’s the fact that the next NFL season starts in less than two months. Even if Edwards and the LA Senate move quickly, that leaves very little time to draft and finalize regulations, release license application forms, review and approve licenses, test systems, and authorize launches.
At this point, hopeful sports bettors might be better off looking to the NFL playoffs or Super Bowl LVI as more realistic goals. Until Edwards makes his final decision, the Board’s ability to move on sports betting is close but no cigar.