Louisiana bettors are closer to being able to start wagering on sporting events by fall if Governor John Bel Edwards approves the second of two bills that is about to clear the Legislature.
Senate Bill 247, which sets up the protocols and oversight, passed the Louisiana House on Thursday night on a vote of 78-15.
The House sponsor of the Senate-passed legislation, Rep. John Stefanski attached last-minute amendments, that he said were worked out with Senate sponsors, which means the measure needs to return to the upper chamber for it to concur with that additional language.
House Bill 697 is the other necessary instrument, which sets up taxes and fees. It passed last week and already sits on the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes, with nearly two-thirds of the voters statewide approving, chose to participate. Before residents can actually place a bet on a sporting event, legislators need to pass laws that set up how it would be done. That’s what these two bills do, reports The Advocated.
According to the language combined in SB247 and HB697, bettors can place wagers on football games or other sporting events on smartphones, in casinos, or at kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages, "hopefully" by football season.
Should Edwards sign the two bills, the next step would be for the Gaming Control Board to produce some rules and start vetting applications.
Only the 20 existing casinos can apply for the base licenses, and all of them already are known entities to the state and have been vetted. State authorities likely would update their existing license investigations. Each casino will be able to license two providers that will handle betting on smartphones. Those partners, most of which have been licensed in other states, can receive temporary permission that the legislative leaders hope will jump-start the betting by the fall.
Wade Duty, executive director at the Louisiana Casino Association, which represents most gambling houses in the state commented: “It should come together fairly quickly. Slowdowns in the process probably would come from the third piece, that is, the companies that would provide specific apps for cellphone wagering, such as those providing geofencing programming that ensures the bets are being placed from one of the 55 parishes whose voters agreed to allow sports betting."