Published: February 10, 2021
By: Ryan Nelsen, Matthew Bennett and Mahogani Counts, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — Voters in most parishes supported the legalization of sports gambling last Nov. 3, but it may be 2022 by the time bettors are legally allowed to wager in Louisiana on football and other games.
With 55 of the 64 parishes voting in favor of the proposal, legislators will use this spring’s session to set tax rates and create a plan for betting on sporting events.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board will then create a regulatory model for gamblers and bet takers to use. Mike Noel, the chairman of board, said he expects the rules to be similar to ones that the board recently approved for fantasy sports betting.
Noel said the State Police’s gaming enforcement division will begin taking applications from fantasy sports operators after the rules are published on Feb. 20.
In 2018, voters in 47 parishes approved betting on daily fantasy games in which users create virtual rosters of real athletes and hope they record better statistics than the groups assembled by other players. The gaming board decided last year that it would levy an 8% tax on the net revenue from fantasy gambling to help fund early childhood education. Louisiana was one of only seven states that did not allow fantasy sports betting in 2020.
Louisianans eager to bet on real sports hope that legislators and the board will not take as long to create the rules this time. Sen. Ronnie Johns, R- Lake Charles, sponsored the bill that legalized sports betting, and he expects lawmakers to have a plan before the Legislature gathers in April for a two-month session.
“I will assure you that we will have an agreement between all parties before the legislature in April with the final proposal,” Johns said. “There is absolutely a lot of discussion going on right now, among all parties involved.”
As Louisiana struggles to finance its operations given the economic effects of COVID-19, sports gambling could provide the state with extra revenue and jobs. While a legislative fiscal note written in 2018 estimated fantasy sports betting would generate $375,000 in tax money in the first year, sports gambling could create more.
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