Lawmakers Target NFL Start As Louisiana Senate Passes Sports Betting Bills

Posted on May 20, 2021 - Last Updated on May 21, 2021

Louisiana appears to have settled on its model for implementing sports betting.

The Louisiana Senate passed a sports regulatory bill Wednesday creating 20 sports betting licenses available for the 15 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino and four racetracks. Each facility may partner with up to two sports betting operators for online skins.

Thursday, the Senate voted 32-4 to Rep. John Stefanski’s H 697, which sets up the tax/fee structure and lottery participation for sports betting.

With the legislative session ending June 10, Louisiana lawmakers are moving quickly to answer the call of the voters. Last November, 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes voted for sports betting.

“Our constituents in the fall of last year went to the ballot and voted in favor of us doing what we’re here to do today, and that is simply to put in place the rules and regulations necessary to allow for sports wagering,” Sen. Rick Ward said. “I’ve went through and I’ve looked at all our Senate districts, and interestingly enough every single Senate district in the state of Louisiana voted for this. So really what we’re here to discuss today is how we go about doing what our constituents have asked us to do.”

Ward took up S 247 for Senate President Page Cortez, who sponsored the bill but couldn’t speak for it while running the Senate floor. The bill passed 31-6. The sports betting regulatory bill now heads over to the House.

Details for Louisiana sports betting legislation

The Louisiana sports betting bills:

  • Appoint the Louisiana Gaming Control Commission to oversee sports betting.
  • Allows the Louisiana Lottery Corporation to contract with one operator for a sportsbook app.
  • Authorizes wagering on professional sports, college sports, Olympic and international competition, and esports.
  • Permits bars and restaurants with a liquor license to obtain sports betting kiosks. Most of these entities already offer video poker machines.
  • Taxes online wagering at 15% and in-person wagering at 10%.
  • Casinos pay $500,000 for a five-year license with a $250,000 application fee.
  • Platform providers pay $100,000 to apply for a five-year license that costs $50,000.
  • Service providers pay $50,000 to apply for a five-year license that costs $25,000.
  • The nine parishes that didn’t vote for sports betting must be geofenced out by online applications.
  • Louisiana tribal casinos don’t receive mention in any of the bills. However, they would get sports betting because may offer the same games as casinos.

In the Senate Judiciary Committee, chair Sen. Gary Smith asked to look at the cap of 20 licenses. He believes there might be more local companies with the wherewithal to participate at that level. With the bill passing the Senate, the time for expansion appears to have passed.

Amendment sets stage for NFL wagering

Before passing the regulatory bill, the Senate passed multiple sets of amendments.

Most were technical in nature. But one allows potential licensees to receive a temporary permit to operate at the start of the NFL season. Ward explained:

“If suitability is met they can acquire a temporary permit and have it extended one time to get through the initial football season this fall, and after that then they will have to go finish the process to get a permit.”

Another amendment changed the effective date of the bill to July 1. Lawmakers seem serious about their stated goal of having a legal sports betting option by football season for Louisianans who voted for the measure.

Louisiana granted the NFL’s request on an amendment allowing professional sports leagues to petition the Louisiana Control Commission to disallow wagering on specific aspects of games if found problematic.

What remains for Louisiana sports betting

With the Senate sending the House sports betting tax bill off to the governor, it’s only a matter of time before the companion bills make the same trek.

Legal retail and online sports betting is coming to Louisiana, and fast.

Ward’s sports betting revenue allocation bill S 142 has lagged behind the others, which he explained was intentional:

“We really needed to get down the road on how the rules and regulations are going to function because I didn’t want to give anyone false sense of hope of you’ve got 25% or 50% of something and it really ended up being not a whole lot. Until we had a better grasp of what this was going to generate, I felt it wasn’t prudent for us to put percentages of something into place.”

With support of the Senate President and voters, it appears to be a lock that Louisiana completes sports betting legislation in the coming weeks.

“Let’s do the will of the people,” Sen. Ronnie Johns said. “Sixty-five percent of the people said that they want to do this. I cannot remember the last time that anything on the ballot in this state got 65%. … I hope we can go into modern times and catch up to what our neighboring states are doing.”

Photo by Brynn Anderson / The Associated Press
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and

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