Spring Session Should See Louisiana Sports Betting Regulations Come Into Bloom

Posted on February 16, 2021

If things go smoothly, Louisiana residents in 55 parishes could be placing legal wagers on sporting events sometime next year.

Things are looking up right now, as the state legislature could consider sports betting regulations in its spring session.

That’s if an assurance from one Pelican State senator proves correct. However, the appearance of a draft of the rules is really just the beginning of a process that could take several months or more.

The latest on Louisiana sports betting regulations

Didn’t voters in most of Louisiana already legalize sports betting at the ballot box last November?

Yes. However, that’s all they did. The ballot measure that all but nine parishes approved simply changed the legality of betting on sporting events.

It did nothing to determine what the regulated market in Louisiana will look like. That’s up to the state legislature now. The forthcoming regulations will dictate, among many things:

  • The tax rate for sportsbooks’ aggregate revenue
  • What events are and aren’t permissible for wagering upon
  • How many licenses the state will issue
  • Whether online sports betting will be tethered to casinos and racetracks

Peek into sports betting regulations could emerge soon

Louisianans should get a glimpse at a preliminary framework within the next few weeks. Sen. Ronnie Johns said he expects a plan ready for the next session of the state legislature, which begins in April.

“I will assure you that we will have an agreement between all parties before the legislature in April with the final proposal,” Johns said. “There is absolutely a lot of discussion going on right now, among all parties involved.”

Who are those parties that Johns mentioned? He didn’t go into any specifics, but it’s not hard to estimate. Stakeholders in the state include professional sports teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints, the state’s casinos, and online gambling companies like DraftKings Sportsbook.

Naturally, members of both houses of the legislature are important in the process as well. In order for regulations to move forward, they will need majority approval in both chambers. While that may happen sometime this year, it doesn’t look like Louisianans will actually be able to place bets in 2021.

Why 2022 is the most optimistic timeline right now

Should a bill get through the legislature in the two-month spring session, that doesn’t necessarily mean legal sportsbooks will be open in time for the coming NFL season. That said, it does mean 2022 becomes more feasible.

After the regulations are finalized, much of the onus for moving forward shifts to whatever state agency assumes enforcement. Most likely, that will be the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

At that point, the board will need time to adjust to its new responsibilities. When it’s ready, it will then make license applications available. Then, there’s time to review those supplications and confirm potential licensees’ preparedness.

That entire process is likely to take the rest of this year, if not spill over into the next. Super Bowl LVI may be a ready-made, go-live date for Louisiana sportsbooks. At this point, the odds look good, but the game still needs playing.

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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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