Louisiana sports betting could miss the original goal of launching by the upcoming NFL Season amid the lack of a regulatory chief in office. The sports betting laws in Louisiana are effective from July 1.
According to reports published earlier this week, the delay could disappoint all Louisiana bettors and proponents – including Senate President Patrick Page Cortez, one of the key sponsors – who had hoped to see Louisiana sports betting up and running by the fall.
Cortez told the Daily Advertiser, “It’s a little bit of a hiccup. We don’t have a Gaming Control Board chair, and until then the board can’t promulgate the rules.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards concluded Louisiana sports betting bills’ legislative journey last week when he signed the remaining two of the three bills. It came months after 55 of 64 parishes approved sports betting last November.
Why Did the Former Chairman Resign?
Former Gaming Control Board Chair Mike Noel resigned on June 9 days before he was to appear before a Senate hearing about his previous actions as State Police commander.
Noel was expected to answer the death of Ronald Greene, a black man who died in police custody in 2019. The former LGCB Chairman was the LPS Chief of Staff during that time.
Edwards appointed Noel to the position in June 2020, following his retirement from the police. However, there was no confirmation whether the resignation from LGCB was linked to the incident, according to Associated Press.
Louisiana Sports Betting Laws Effective July 1
Louisiana lawmakers had given the sports betting bills emergency status to speed up the process. The laws – effective from July 1 – allow the LGCB to allocate provisional launches for quick online launches for the upcoming NFL season.
The law regulates retail and online sports betting in Sugar State, which will award as many as 20 licenses to 15 existing casinos and five racinos. Against each license, two skins are allowed, making it 40 mobile licenses. Since Louisiana Lottery is also authorized to have one mobile skin, the state can have as many as 41 mobile sportsbooks at its saturation point.
Louisiana retail betting will be levied at 10% tax, while mobile bets will be taxed at 15%.
When Will Louisiana Sports Betting Launch Now?
Cortez told a newspaper that the outgoing regulatory chief said before he resigned that Louisiana sports betting could launch by early 2022. “But that could clearly change now,” Cortez told the Daily Advertiser.
Uncertainty will persist unless a new chair is appointed, Cortez noted.
Gambling expansion has not a boastful history in Louisiana. Delays are almost common. For instance, the state voters approved daily fantasy sports (DFS) in a referendum in 2018 but until Dec. 2020, there was no regulation approved on it.
DFS is also expected to launch ahead of the NFL season.
When will the New Chairman Be Appointed?
Christina Stephen, a spokesperson for the governor, told a newspaper that Edwards “looks forward to making an appointment sooner rather than later.”
One likely candidate could be the state Sen. Ronnie Johns, a key supporter of the sports betting measures passed recently.
Before a critical Senate vote on the key regulatory bill, SB 247, Johns said, “This vote today was actually taken this past fall when 65% of the residents in this state said we want to do this. The people have spoken on this.”
The regulatory authority must formulate rules and announce them publicly before casinos, racinos, mobile operators, and bars can move forward to take legal bets in Sugar State.