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Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Down To Final Chances

Louisiana sports betting legislation is in a race for passage before the end of the session.

While Gov. John Bel Edwards already signed HB 697, two other pieces of LA sports betting legislation are still in progress. The session ends Thursday.

The main regulatory bill, SB 247, saw House amendments rejected by the Senate on Tuesday. The House approved an appropriations bill, SB 142, for consideration after the 57th day and was rescheduled for floor debate Wednesday.

The legislative path for retail and mobile sports betting is still clear, though perhaps not as smooth as the journey appeared early in the session. More than 60% of the state’s residents voted for it in November 2020.

Sports betting heads to conference committee

Senate President Patrick Page Cortez is the sponsor of SB 247, which sets up the main regulatory framework for sports betting in Louisiana.

Cortez will be part of the conference committee that works to clean up the language on the bill before it heads to Edwards. The bill was on the Senate calendar for Wednesday, under “Instruments Pending Senate Conference.”

Since Cortez authored the bill, he will likely make it a priority to finish quickly. It originally passed the Senate, 31-6, on May 19.

Appropriations bill continues on

Despite starting at the same time as the two bills necessary to enact sports betting in Louisiana, Senator Rick Ward’s SB 142 trailed through the two chambers. That was to get a better idea of what kind of money sports betting might generate in the state.

His bill allocates where money from Louisiana sports betting goes. It is not needed to enact sports betting in Louisiana.

Passed by the Senate on June 2, a House committee altered the percentages of sports betting revenue heading to different uses in the state:

  • 25% to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund
  • 12% by proportionate distribution to each parish which taxable conduct occurred
  • 2% to the Behavioral Health and Wellness Fund
  • 1% to the Sports Wagering Purse Supplemental Fund
  • Remaining money to the general fund

The money the bill portions out comes from the sports betting revenue taxes set up in HB 647. That bill dictates the state levies a 10% tax on retail bets and 15% on mobile bets.

Halfway there in Louisiana

To satisfy voter wishes, just HB 697 and SB 247 are necessary to enact sports betting in Louisiana.

Already featuring the governor’s signature, HB 697 sets up the tax and fee structure for sports wagering in the state while also allocating a license to the Louisiana Lottery. That license will allow for kiosks in local restaurants and bars.

Cortez’s bill outlines the regulatory framework in the state, including the allocation of 20 licenses. Those licenses allow the state’s 20 casinos and racinos to operate retail and online sports betting, including up to two skins each. Bettors will be able to register online.

Football season still sports betting launch target

The bill sponsors are still targeting to be live during this year’s football season. Legislators approved an amendment that allows the Louisiana Gaming Control Board the ability to grant provisional licenses for mobile operators before physical sportsbooks are built.

Last week, Rep. John Stefanski, who wrote HB 697, was confident the bills will be through by the end of the session.

“I’m more optimistic now [that sports betting will launch during football season],” Stefanski told LSR. “We gave the gaming control board the ability to give provisional licenses, so even if they don’t have a physical sportsbook built, they can go live with a mobile application. It’s very likely.”

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