he Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 71-24 to approve a proposal that paves the way for legalized sports betting in some Louisiana parishes. Both houses of the legislature now have voted for the referendum, and Gov. John Bel Edwards has expressed support for legalizing sports betting.
The legislation, Senate Bill 130, does not spell out who would be allowed to bet on sports or where bets would be taken, nor does it set taxes or fees, Bossier Now reports.
Residents would vote to allow it or not in their parishes, and lawmakers would work out the details during next year’s fiscal session. The Gaming Control Board would have oversight once lawmakers set the rules.
"I know sports wagering is a difficult issue for a lot of members," state Sen. Cameron Henry, the Metairie Republican who sponsored the bill, told a House committee. "This way you’ll be able to know [after the November election] exactly what your constituents want you to do."
Legalizing sports betting was one of the most contentious issues discussed during last year’s session, though the concept has faced far less opposition this year.
Supporters’ main goal last year was to help Louisiana’s casinos compete with casinos in other states that already provide sports betting. Supporters also argue that people are betting on sports already, so lawmakers may as well legalize it and tax it to raise revenue.
Gambling opponents say any expansion of gaming leads to more problem gambling, ultimately creating costs for state taxpayers that far outweigh the benefits.
In those parishes that do authorize wagering, people will have to wait a year or more to bet on sports, as the additional legislation to create the licensing, regulation, and tax structures required would take some time.