Louisiana sports betting could see the light of the day soon as lawmakers will take up seven sports betting bills in the session that starts today. The two most important are SB 195 and SB 202, which will be taken up by Senate Judiciary B Committee.
Both outlines propose sports betting regulations and limit betting to the 55 parishes that approved sports betting on November 2020 ballot. However, State Senate President Patrick Page Cortes’s SB 202 is more important than perhaps any other Louisiana sports betting bill, notably because of his position in the legislature; his influential position as president makes his proposed measures more formidable. Yet, considering likely pushback from various quarters, longtime Louisiana gaming official Ronnie Jones says he’s not sure what the finished product is going to look like.
Louisiana lawmakers are set to open debate on sports betting in the session that will start today Monday, April 12 and will not adjourn until June 10. Lawmakers must have sufficient time to discuss the framework of the industry already legalized via the referendum in November 2020 by 55 of 64 parishes.
Differences Between SB 195 and SB 202
Both SB 195 and SB 202 allow for up to 20 sports betting licenses to be awarded, with both bills authorizing sportsbooks at the state’s 15 riverboat casinos and four racetracks. However, Cortes’ SB 202 would authorize more inclusive mobile sports betting in almost all of Louisiana’s parishes. It would allow for sportsbook licenses to be given to some bars and restaurants in the Sugar State. However, SB 202 specifically excludes NGOs, convenience stores, quick stops, service stations, food marts, barbershops, grocery stores, movie theatres, cigarette establishments, or beauty shops.
There are also differences in the number of skins. SB 195 allows licensees to have up to three mobile skins, compared to two allowed under SB 202. SB 202 also gives preference to one land-based casino before giving away leftover licenses to authorized video poker establishments and fantasy sports operators. Each casino or racetrack would have to apply for a license, and if any of those don’t apply, the other qualified entities could apply through a competitive bidding process.
Moreover, SB 202 would establish “geofencing” around those parishes that approved sports betting while blocking access to those parishes that rejected the measure. However, SB 195 would only allow for bets to be placed on-premise of the licensee or at a permitted retail establishment.
Louisiana, A Potent Sports Betting Market
Louisiana, which is home to some 4.6 million residents, could generate up to $332 million in annual sports betting revenue. This is according to the Louisiana Wins campaign, which is headed by some of the leading US operators, including DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars. When looking at the figures released by other states with a similar population, the estimates are within reach. For example, Colorado has around 5.4 million residents and secured $266.5 million in revenue in February, a great achievement for the shortest month of the year which had fewer sporting events to wager on.
In addition, Louisiana also has a large sports fanbase. Besides the two New Orleans’ two professional sports teams – the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) and the New Orleans Saints (NFL) – the state is home to NCAA football powerhouse LSU. The local fanbase will bolster the industry further and give Louisiana a good chance at being one of the state’s top legal markets.