Following delays caused by Hurricane Ida, which pushed the initial September start date back a month, Louisiana is now on track to launch sports betting statewide in early October. According to Louisiana officials, next month sportsbooks would be able to begin operating in the state’s casinos, while mobile wagering could take longer to go live.
“We had been projecting late September, but our goal now is to have them up and running by Oct. 1,” said Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns to the USA Today Network. Johns, a Republican state senator from the Lake Charles area, was appointed this summer to lead the nine-member Control Board by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Hurricane Ida proved to be a delaying factor. As State Police troopers were reassigned to help with disaster recovery, the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division, which helps Control Board regulating gaming and enforcing laws, couldn’t operate as it regularly would. “We lost about seven to 10 days,” admitted Johns. “But everything is back on track now.”
Last week, following the approval of emergency rules in August that allowed Louisiana’s Big 20 casinos –on 15 riverboats and at four racetracks, as well as Harrah’s in New Orleans– to file license applications, the Gaming Control Board confirmed that eight had applied to offer sports betting in the state.
The operators, partnered with the state’s existing gaming entities, are already going through background checks and other key licensing measures. Permanent rules are set to go through a process that allows for input from opponents and comments from the public.
While in-person wagering is set to launch in October, bettors looking forward to do so via their smartphone will have to wait – perhaps even a few months, according to Johns.
“Mobile takes longer because the casinos use outside vendors to do that work, and those vendors haven’t been licensed yet, so they have to go through the suitability process and background checks with the State Police,” said the LGCB Chairman. “We’re hoping to have some of those approved in a 60-day window.”
Another betting market that will have to wait to launch is betting in bars. The use of kiosks to place bets in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol might not be allowed until early 2022. The task of overseeing these kiosks falls to the Louisiana Lottery Corp.
Agency President Rose Hudson told the USA Today Network that the process of seeking vendors and putting together the rules for that segment of the industry should be wrapped in November, with a launching date expected by the beginning of next year.
It is expected that, when launched, sports betting in bars and restaurants could be a welcomed addition to those venues. “It offers the businesses another way to attract customers,” said Hudson.