The idea of legal sports betting in the state of Louisiana has been bubbling below the surface for years but news out of the state this week seems to signify that a full sports betting platform is as close as it ever has been. While still a complicated issue, all citizens in parishes that voted for a DFS platform nearly three years ago could finally be legally drafting their Fantasy teams by the start of the NFL season.
“It will definitely happen before the fall,” said Chuck McNeal, Major of the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division. “As long as my investigators are getting all the documentation and paperwork they need.”
Cream of the Crop
Those in charge of the Louisiana scene aren’t taking the possibility of launching a DFS platform lightly. The two DFS giants/turned sports betting providers happen to be the only two providers that have applied to bring legal Fantasy sports to the state and obviously, they are the two that bring with them the best chance for a platform to go live.
One of the two has been working directly with the Louisiana Gaming Board to secure the right to operate a wide-reaching DFS platform in the state. That provider brings an immense amount of industry experience as well as its share of credibility into the argument of whether or not to launch a platform for the Pelican State.
Potential Parish Pitfalls
As mentioned, the legal sports betting question in the state of Louisiana has been a complicated one. Individual parishes, for which there are 64 hold the right to vote for or against any launch for their individual jurisdictions. As it stands, 47 of the 64 voted in 2018 to allow for DFS – 17 didn’t.
Those 17 won’t initially have access to DFS, per their voters’ requests for now and geofencing technology will be utilized to block the technology from seeping into their parishes. What that means for the future of DFS for the outlying jurisdictions is anyone’s guess.
Will Regulated Sports Betting Follow?
There is a school of thought that DFS acceptance and launch will open the floodgates that will allow for a full legal sports betting platform to launch in Louisiana. It looks to be about viability for lawmakers and a DFS platform is expected to expose the benefits of such a platform.
It is widely accepted that the launch of a robust DFS platform will show legislators the popularity of such a sports betting opportunity, while at the same time reveal just how much money can be made from Fantasy Sports. DFS is slated to be taxed at 8% which will provide its share of much-needed revenue for state and local coffers in the Pelican State.
Even without DFS success, legal sports betting legislation is moving forward in Louisiana. House Bill HB 697, Senate Bills SB 142 and SB 202 have all been introduced and widely discussed. All three will be
necessary to officially launch a sport betting platform, and are currently making some noise in the Louisiana legislature.
SB 202 seems like the furthest along and lays out a lot of the regulatory minutia such as a $250,000 application fee and a $500,000 license fee for five years. The bill has gone as far as laying out a 10% tax rate on retail sportsbooks and an 18% tax rate on any mobile bets.
The Louisiana Lottery Under the Bill Would Become the Regulatory Body
“I’m pretty comfortable with it,” Rep. John Stefanski said. “I don’t think it’ll be easy. We go back to gambling, fees and taxing, that gives members a lot of heartburn for a lot of reasons. I’m still very optimistic.”
What It All Means
The November 3 election shed a lot of light on where the citizens of Louisiana are on the subject of legal sports betting. The question passed rather easily in 55 of 64 parishes, which marks an improvement over the DFS question three years earlier. Now it is up to legislators to act on the public momentum and hopefully get some laws hammered out.
Tax revenue alone from a sports betting platform for the state of Louisiana is estimated to be about $300 million per year. That money is already earmarked for schools, roads, and bridges as the biggest beneficiaries of the tax revenue generated.
The start of the NFL season has been identified as the target for DFS to live in the parishes that voted to bring them in. Time will tell if a full-blown legal sports betting platform will follow.