Lawmakers say Louisiana sports betting could begin by fall

Louisiana

FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo, a man makes a sports bet at Resorts casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Sports books say the blitz of advertising they launched in the run up to the 2021 Super Bowl, while costly, paid off in terms of attracting new customers to the fast-growing legal sports betting industry in the U.S. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — People in Louisiana could start betting on sports events as early as the fall through sports book sites, kiosk locations and mobile sites, under the bill setting up the wagering regulations that continued Tuesday to ease its way toward final legislative passage.

“We would hope that this would be available to the public sometime before the end of the football season,” said Senate President Page Cortez, a Lafayette Republican, told the House criminal justice committee after it advanced the regulatory measure without objection.

The proposal has only a few remaining steps, including a House floor debate, before it can reach Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. But lawmakers have shown little resistance to a bill pushed by the Senate’s leader, particularly after voters across most of the state agreed to legalize the wagering.

Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes agreed to allow sports betting on live-action games, but lawmakers had to set the rules and the tax rates before the gambling can begin. The tax bill already has won final legislative passage, leaving the regulations as the final piece needing approval.

The regulatory proposal would create 20 licenses for sports book operators, with Louisiana’s casinos and racetracks given first chance to get those licenses. If those casinos and racetracks don’t seek all 20 licenses by Jan. 1, fantasy sports betting operators and video poker establishments in the 55 parishes where sports wagering is legal would be able to apply for any available licenses.

Any operator that gets a license to conduct sports betting onsite also could do the wagering through a website and mobile app. Under a separate bill already on the governor’s desk, the Louisiana Lottery Corporation also would operate its own sports book through an online site, mobile app and kiosk locations that could be set up in bars and restaurants.

To place bets, a player would have to be 21 or older, set up an account with a sports betting operator in the state and be physically located in a parish that voted to legalize the wagers. Someone who lives in a parish that didn’t approve sports betting could place bets if they drive over to a parish where the wagering was legalized.

Athletes, coaches and referees couldn’t bet on a sports event in which they are involved. Bets couldn’t be placed on high school or youth sports events.

Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly agreed to a separate measure by Republican Rep. John Stefanski, of Crowley, that contains the lottery rules and sets the tax rates for sports betting. The House voted 78-24 for the bill, and the Senate backed it in a 32-4 vote, giving it final passage last week.

Under that bill, the state would tax the net gaming proceeds of the sports betting operators, with a 10% tax collected on wagering at onsite locations and a 15% tax on wagering through mobile apps and electronic devices. It also would establish the application and licensing fees for the sports betting operators. The measure only would take effect if lawmakers pass Cortez’s regulation bill.

Lawmakers haven’t decided how they would spend the money that sports betting could generate for the state.

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The bills are filed as Senate Bill 202 and House Bill 697.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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