Published: June 10, 2021
By: Ryan Nelsen | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE—Lawmakers passed the final pieces Thursday to create sports gambling in the state, and it could start before the upcoming football season.
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the first of the three bills last week, and the other two bills faced last-minute adjustments on the final day of the legislative session Thursday.
“We’re simply putting in place the rules and regulations for something that our constituents have told us they wanted,” Sen. Rick Ward, R-Lake Charles, said earlier in the debates.
Last fall, 55 of 64 parishes voted in favor of some form of sports betting, and over 64% of voters in the state approved the measure.
Ward and three other Republicans spearheaded the writing of how Louisiana would welcome legal wagering on sports events. Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, and Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, authored the bills along with Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, authored the bills and co-sponsored other measures.
Before the session, the looming decision for the state was to either mimic Mississippi’s approach and limit sports wagering to in-person bets placed in casinos or allow betting over the internet. States that have allowed online betting have seen more lucrative tax collections.
Louisiana chose to allow betting in-person or online and to allow bars and restaurants to have kiosks similar to video poker machines. The nine parishes that did not favor sports gambling will be “geofenced” out from participating in online wagering.
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