Lousiana Legislature Approves Sports Betting On Session’s Final Day

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The Louisiana Senate Thursday concurred and accepted House amendments on a key sports betting bill, two days after rejecting them 36-0. The bill that was finally passed on the last day of this legislative session now heads to the governor.

While SB 247 – which deals with Louisiana sports betting’s regulatory aspect – awaits the governor’s approval, the Senate also approved the third sports betting bill SB 142. This bill specifies revenue appropriation from the industry.

Both bills now will be on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk, who has already signed into law HB 697 – another sports betting bill – last week.

SB 247 lays out the framework for online and retail sports betting in Louisiana, which is expected to launch as soon as this NFL.

In Nov. 2020, the state residents from 55 of 64 parishes had voted in favor of sports betting.

An Eventful Week!

Last Tuesday, the state Senate had rejected SB 247 – the last of the three sports betting bills – two days after receiving its amended version from the House. The rejection of the bill was as emphatic as its approval two days later.

After rejecting the bill 36-0 on Tuesday, the bill was slate for a senate conference committee to review the language.

But when Sen. Rich Ward moved to reconsider the House amendments and to concur on them, nobody even discussed them and approved the House version of SB 247 by a 33-3 majority. The day – Thursday – when all this drama unfolded was the last day of the Louisiana Legislature’s 2021 session.

“After taking a look at SB 247 and the amendments put on (by the House), we’ll leave it all the same and simply concur,” said Senator Rick Ward.

The bill originally passed the Louisiana Senate, 3-6, on May 19. Last Thursday, the lower chamber voted 78-15 to approve SB 247.

What’s in SB 247?

Senate Bill 247 is sponsored by Senate President Patrick Page Cortez. It is one of two sports betting bills required to legalize sports betting in Louisiana.

The measure formulates the main regulatory framework for sports betting in the Sugar State. It allows for 20 licenses for the Louisiana casinos and racinos, including both retail and mobile sports betting. Each license can have two mobile skins.

The state lottery will also have access to a mobile license, meaning there could be as many as 41 mobile platforms in a fully operational industry.

When Will Louisiana Sports Betting Launch?

The lawmakers have included language for provisional licenses to launch online sportsbooks before retail sports betting venues are built. Mobile registration is also available in Louisiana sports betting.

The bill sponsors expect Louisiana mobile sports betting sometime during the NFL season, with retail sports betting opening following shortly after.

While talking to a sports news site last week, Rep John Stefanski expressed optimism regarding the sports betting launch during football season. “We allowed the gaming control board to give provisional licenses, so even if they don’t have a physical sportsbook built, they can launch a mobile application.”

Tale of the Third Louisiana Sports Betting Bill

Like HB 697 and SB 247, another important bill – SB 142 – was also introduced during the session. But it trailed behind the two bills.

Sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward, SB 142 – Ward’s appropriation bill – returned to the Senate with House amendments on Wednesday. The upper chamber rejected the amended version of the bill, and now it is pending in the conference committee. Following a conference committee meeting Thursday, both chambers adopted the committee report to approve the third bill.

SB 142 provides for the distribution of funds raised by sports betting. Mr. Stefanski gave members a breakdown of how the funds would be allocated: 60% to the Louisiana general fund, 25% to early childhood programs, and 12% to locals. The remaining 2% will be distributed to gambling addiction-related programs, and 1% to the state’s horsemen fund.

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