Louisiana Sports Betting Hinges On Lawmakers’ Last Minute Decision

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Louisiana lawmakers have literally hours left to iron out differences surrounding a sports betting bill before the state legislature adjourns June 10. It comes after the state Senate on Tuesday rejected Senate Bill 247 – which concerns the regulatory aspect of sports betting – two days after the House sent the amended version of the proposal for the final approval.

After voting down the amendments 36-0, the Senate sent the bill to the conference committee.

The state legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on Thursday, which means the lawmakers have hours left to conclude deliberations before it can be sent to the governor for his signature.

Last Thursday, the Louisiana House Chamber approved SB 247 by 78-15 majority after the Senate had sent the bill after its approval 31-6 on May 19.

In November, Voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes nodded to sports betting, paving the way for legal retail and online sports betting in the Sugar State.

What Happened on Tuesday?

SB 247 – which the House had sent to the upper chamber on Sunday – was introduced on Tuesday morning. Sen. Rich Ward said at that time the senators were going to move to “reject the amendments and send the bill into the conference in order to finish out the work and make sure everything is in order.”

Passage of SB 247 is crucial to the projected launch of Louisiana sports betting ahead of the NFL in September. So far, only one of the three sports betting bills has crossed the finishing lines.

Why Did the Senate Reject SB 247 Outrightly?

The exact reason is unknown – at least officially. Many stakeholders are unsure why the concurrence was not granted by the Louisiana Senate.

Maybe, it’s betting on horse racing.

The House-led amendments included allowing for betting on horse racing at Harrah’s land-based casino. During the House debate last week, Rep. John Stefanski said the provision to legalize betting on horse racing is already is in the proposal for riverboat casinos. Only Harrah’s – the only land-based casino in Sugar State – was inadvertently left out, the lawmaker said.

As of now, the bill would legalize retail and mobile betting, and each brick-and-mortar venue would be allowed to have two digital skins. In addition, the state lottery would also have an online skin.

The state will distribute 20 licenses among 15 existing casinos and five racinos, meaning there would be as many as 41 online platforms.

In addition to a digital platform, the Louisiana Lottery would establish as many as 1000 kiosk terminals to extend sports betting in bars and restaurants with liquor servicing facilities.

Governor Signs HB 697

On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB 697, ten days after the state legislature sent the measure to him. HB 697 – sponsored by Rep. John Stefanski along with 13 co-authors– authorizes the Louisiana Lottery to regulate sports betting and set a tax on the industry.

The bill levies the tax rate at 10% for revenue drawn from betting at retail facilities and 15% for online platforms.

On May 20, HB 697 had been approved by a vote of 32-4.

The Third Sports Betting Bill

SB 142 – sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward III – is related to money generated by sports betting and its distribution. It was scheduled for floor debate Tuesday for the House’s final passage. But Stefanski moved for reconsideration and, by 88-11, the lower chamber passed consideration after the 57th calendar day.

Last week, the bill had been approved by the state senate 33-3.

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