Senate Bill 153 was the piece of legislature regarding sports betting that had the most support within the state of Louisiana. The bill had been discussed and debated in the Senate for weeks, but the committee finally gave their vote on Tuesday to pass the bill.
The committee finished with a vote of 3-1, but the only senator to vote against the bill has openly admitted that they have a personal struggle with gambling in their own life. This makes the single vote against the bill less relevant to how lawmakers actually view it.
Much of the motivation behind the legalization bill is financially related. Senator Danny Martiny, who sponsored Senate Bill 153, has estimated tax revenue numbers in excess of $50 million per year.
Another large reason Louisiana needs sports betting is because their closest neighbor, Mississippi, has already legalized sports betting and is beginning to capitalize on the market. Mississippi’s revenue totals are below half of what they originally expected, which may indicate that senator Martiny’s $50 million figure may be inaccurate, especially with sports betting already legalized in Mississippi.
Martiny’s bill has seen some amendments during the time it was being discussed in the Senate. One of the most noticeable mandates that mobile sports bets can only be placed within specific areas of casinos and similar environments. This may actually hurt revenue for sports betting as well, considering Mississippi allows bettors to place their wager from anywhere on the gambling property.
This change was a reflection of the senators willingness to listen to everyone’s concerns to find language that satisfies all needs. Another example of this is how Senate Bill 153 indicates that a portion of revenue will go to funding for education programs, specifically for younger children. This is particularly important for Louisiana this year, as those programs are slotted to have federal funding slashed.
It did take a combination of language from multiple bills, but Louisiana finally has a bill that lawmakers can agree on. The bill must still see an official vote within the Senate, but the support SB153 has received so far is a great sign for sports betting in Louisiana. If the bill is ultimately approved by the senate, public voters in the state will have the final deciding say.