Louisiana sports betting regulations start moving in Senate

Louisiana

FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo a gambler makes a sports bet at Resorts casino in Atlantic City, N.J. On Sunday, April 25, 2021, British gambling company Super Group announced a deal to become publicly traded and enter the U.S. sports betting market, including New Jersey. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana residents would be able to bet on athletic competitions at sports book locations and through mobile applications, under a bill that started advancing Tuesday in the Senate to set the regulations for sports wagering in the parishes where it’s legal.

In Nov. 2020 voters approved of legalizing sports wagering in every Northwest Louisiana parish except for Sabine. As a result, wagering will be legal in Caddo, Bienville, Bossier, Claiborne, De Soto, Natchitoches, Red River, and Webster Parish.

Even though voters agreed to allow sports betting on live-action games lawmakers still have to set the rules and the tax rates before the gambling can begin. Republican legislative leaders are pushing the measures required for the wagering to start, giving them a strong chance of reaching the governor’s desk.

The regulatory measure backed without objection by a Senate judiciary committee is sponsored by Senate President Page Cortez, a Lafayette Republican. It 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 or mobile app.

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.

“If you live in one of the parishes that did not vote for this, you’ll have to drive into one of the parishes that did,” said Sen. Rick Ward, a Port Allen Republican.

Athletes, coaches and referees couldn’t bet on a sports event in which they are involved.

The bill heads next to the full Senate for debate, but could be diverted to the Senate budget committee for a second review.

On Monday, the House voted 78-24 for a bill by Republican Rep. John Stefanski, of Crowley, that would set the tax rates for sports betting. That separate measure awaits debate in the Senate.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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