Governor Signs Louisiana Sports Betting Bill, Wagering Could Begin By Fall


Louisiana’s governor has signed the final bill required for sporting betting to begin in the state, possibly by football season.

LSU cheerleadersLSU cheerleaders
LSU cheerleaders fire up the crowd at a football game. Sports betting proponents hope people in Louisiana will be able to bet on sporting events in time for football season in the fall. (Image: Reveille)

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday signed legislation to regulate the sports betting industry in Louisiana. Edwards previously signed a bill that sets the tax rate on sports betting. The two-month legislative session at the Capitol in Baton Rouge ended on June 10.

Under the new law, sports betting will be permitted in the 55 of 64 parishes that approved it during last November’s election. The law will allow bettors to use mobile devices such as smartphones to wager on live sporting events. Bets also can be placed at sportsbooks inside casinos and kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Mobile phone apps will be equipped with geofencing to restrict sports betting to a parish that voted in favor of it. However, anyone can travel into one of those parishes and place a bet on a smartphone or computer.

Before the legislative session began in April, state Senate President Page Cortez (R) said sports betting would raise meaningful revenue only if it were allowed on mobile devices. In the first two months of 2021, about 85 percent of sports bets nationwide were done on mobile devices, according to the Associated Press.

Louisiana is the only state in the region that will have mobile sports betting. Casinos in the bordering states of Mississippi and Arkansas allow in-person betting inside casinos. However, legal mobile sports betting does not take place in either state. Texas does not have casinos or legal sports betting.

Tax Rates Set

Some estimates indicate Louisiana could raise $10 million to $50 million on sports betting each year. Bets placed at locations such as sportsbooks will be taxed at 10 percent of net revenue and 15 percent on mobile devices. The tax will be applied to the money left over after the winning bettors have been paid.

Each of the current 20 gaming license holders in Louisiana will be allowed to contract with two sports betting companies to handle mobile betting. These gaming license holders in Louisiana include riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. 

If the gaming license holders want to provide sports betting, they will be required to pay $250,000 to apply for a sports betting license, and then $500,000 for a five-year license. 

Aiming for Football Season

Rep. John Stefanski (R), who sponsored the bill to set tax rates on sports betting, said sports wagering probably won’t be up and running in the state until 2022. He said licensing and other procedures required to get it going will take some time.

Sports betting proponents have expressed hope that those issues can be resolved in time for people to bet by football season in the fall.

Louisiana is considered a hotbed for sports enthusiasts. New Orleans is home to the NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Pelicans. Louisiana State University, an annual college football powerhouse competing in the Southeastern Conference, plays home games on the campus in Baton Rouge. The Tigers begin their season on Sept. 4 in Pasadena, Calif., against the UCLA Bruins. 

The National Football League preseason begins with an Aug. 5 game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. The regular season opens with a Thursday night game on Sept. 9 between the Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL games usually are the most widely bet sporting events in the country. 

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