Almost two years to the day when 47 of 64 parishes in the great state of Louisiana voted in favor of legalizing daily fantasy sports, a similar measure will be on the ballot. Legalized sports betting has been put to a vote in Louisiana for the 2020 General Election.
Will anything go differently with a sports betting vote? We’ll have to wait and see, but because of the legislative setup in the state of Louisiana, we are guaranteed to add the Bayou State to the ranks of those that have legalized sports betting. The degree to which Louisiana embraces and supports sports betting will depend on the votes from each parish.
Money from sports betting has been earmarked to support education initiatives across the state, which should drum up more support.
The language on the ballot is remarkably simply and straightforward:
“Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of ____?”
This is basically a “legalize-first, regulate-later” ballot initiative, akin to what happened in 2018 when DFS was legalized. The door has to be opened first. Then the state and parish officials will get together and decide how they want sports betting to operate within the state. This is, to say the least, a sticky situation.
Most sportsbook operators have employed geolocation technology that confirms the location of users so that they are in a legal jurisdiction to bet. It is a lot different doing that with state borders than it would be with parish borders. The regulatory framework in Louisiana is likely to take a long time to come together, but there should have already been lots of discussions because there will be parishes that approve the measure.
DFS was approved by 47 of 64 parishes in 2018 and it took until the summer of 2020 to officially come together on all of the regulations and tax structures.
In other words, betting will pass and will be legalized in parts of Louisiana, but it could take some time for the operators to be able to set up shop and start taking bets. It will likely take until 2022 at the earliest for most parishes to be up and running, though a parish like Orleans, which has a Harrah’s location, or Calcasieu, which has a Golden Nugget property in Lake Charles, could be pushed through the quickest.
Neighboring Mississippi has legalized sports betting and is one of the only deep south states to allow it, along with Arkansas. However, in both Mississippi and Arkansas, sports betting is restricted to retail locations, which severely cuts into the tax revenue because it limits access to sports betting for the state’s population.
There are a lot of additional incentives to providing mobile and online betting. Remote registration would be smart as well, but mobile and online betting would give Louisiana the opportunity to tap into the Texas market, as Texas is a state that is nowhere near adopting legalized sports betting. Texas is a state that is pretty strict on gambling to begin with, so those in Houston or Beaumont or Dallas may be willing to take the drives along I-10 or I-20 to get their bets in.
Sports betting will be legalized in some parts of Louisiana with this vote. Passing in 47 of 64 parishes would be a great number, but fantasy sports have long been more accepted in the United States compared to betting. Times are changing, but opposition still exists.
With lots of smaller gaming facilities, much like the state of Colorado, a handful of big commercial casinos, including Harrah’s in New Orleans, Hollywood Casino (Barstool) in Baton Rouge, and a Sam’s Town in Shreveport, and racetracks like Louisiana Downs and Fair Grounds, operators would find enough opportunities to get licenses and offer betting. Of course, it would depend on the parishes that pass the measure and those that don’t.
Either way, some degree of Louisiana will be on board with betting after the 2020 election. It will just be a while before any bets are actually placed.
One of the big sticking points for Governor Edwards has been that you can bet on sports in Mississippi. That is a retail-only environment, but it has reinvigorated the casino and gaming industries in Mississippi in Tunica and Biloxi. Injecting some new life into the Louisiana casinos with a focus on the Early Education Fund seems to be the goal in Louisiana.
For now, however, you cannot bet on sports in Louisiana. As mentioned, Mississippi is the easiest option and is a fairly painless option when you think about it. The Gulf Coast casinos are not that far away from New Orleans.
Retail betting is also available in Arkansas, which gives residents of places like Shreveport some options. Otherwise, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Texas does not have any form of legal betting. Most of the southeast does not have betting, though Georgia is making a pretty significant push towards legalized sports betting.
For Louisiana, the options are Mississippi and Arkansas if you can get to a retail book or to make a trip to an approved state.