Louisiana Lawmakers to Revisit Sports Betting in 2019

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This week, Louisiana lawmakers showed a renewed interest in bringing legalized sports betting to the state known for being the birthplace of jazz, Cajun cuisine and, of course, Mardi Gras. Though legislators rejected a similar bid to expand gambling to Louisiana earlier this year, another proposal may gain traction in 2019.

Though legislators rejected a similar bid to expand gambling to Louisiana earlier this year, another proposal may gain traction in 2019. Sports gambling is possible after the U.S. Supreme Court in may overturned a ban on the activity.

Some lawmakers feel the state is missing an opportunity at taxing the activity as gamblers are dropping their money elsewhere, such as next door in Mississippi. 

Beyond Mississippi, seven states have or are ready to implement legal sports betting: Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and, of course, Nevada, which has allowed betting since 1931.

A statewide vote Nov. 6 on fantasy sports gaming is expected to take the temperature on the possible expansion of gambling expansion in the state.

This week, Republican Sen. Danny Martiny told a Senate judiciary panel that he will reintroduce sports betting legislation to the governing body next year.

Louisiana possibly could generate $245 million to $288 million a year from legal sports betting, the American Gaming Association projects based on information from the Louisiana State Police.

“The question is how much are we going to lose if we don’t do it,” Martiny asked the judiciary committee, reported NOLA.com.

Dan Real, manager of Harrah’s New Orleans, too, urged lawmakers to consider legal sports betting, calling it a “very important” to competition.

Conservative and religious leaders in the state have long opposed to the gambling expansion effort and those who support it don’t agree on how it should be implemented. So, there’s a lot of work to be done and before betting begins in Louisiana.

On small step in the general direction is next month’s vote on whether to allow fantasy sports betting apps, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, to become legal in the state.

The vote is expected to be a barometer on Louisiana residents’ interest in sports betting. The ballot initiative allows each Louisiana parish to approve or ditch fantasy sports games play.

Fairness for Fantasy Sports in Louisiana, a political action committee, primarily funded by FanDuel, is fueling an advertising campaign supporting the effort’s approval.

The games work this way: a bettor pays a contest entry fee and pick a sport to participate in; they then pick professional athletes for a daily fantasy team, staying under a salary cap; they place a bet on how successful the team will be; they then make or lose money based on the team’s performance. The apps allow users to play multiple games at one time.

“It’s fun to play and I think people should have the right to determine if they want to play or not,” State Rep. Kirk Talbot R-River Ridge told CBS affiliate WWL-TV, Channel 4 in New Orleans. Talbot helped get the initiative on the ballot.

He said the games are more skill than gambling, noting that players have to consider field conditions and player injuries when picking teams and placing bets. “It’s really a very low dollar thing that people just do for fun,” he told the TV station.

If a parish fails to pass the initiative, people there cannot legally play the games on their electronic devices including smartphones, tables and computers.

If approved, fantasy sports in Louisiana won’t occur overnight. Further legislation on regulation and taxes will need to be considered next year.

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