Legalized sports betting in Louisiana’s state licensed casinos could start November 1, as Ronnie Johns, head of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board said the first properties are close to getting their licenses. Also on Thursday, the regulator approved an application from FanDuel to join DraftKings as a fantasy sports gambling operator, and it also greenlighted the sale of Harrah's Louisiana Downs horse racetrack and casino in Bossier City.
As for the statewide sports betting market, Johns hinted that the regulator is in the final stages of the approval process. “I understand the public wants this very badly, and we’re working overtime”, he said, as reported by The Advocate. Johns said he didn’t have a date for issuing the first live-action sports betting licenses, “but it’s going to be soon.”
13 of the 20 state licensed riverboats, racinos, and Harrah’s land-based casino have applied for licenses to handle sports betting. The remaining seven gambling properties are expected to do so before January 1.
During a Thursday meeting, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board voted unanimously for FanDuel to join DraftKings in launching fantasy sports contests in the 47 parishes allowed to have the gaming after the November 2018 election outcome. DraftKings has been up and running in Louisiana for months.
The decision makes Louisiana the 47th state to approve FanDuel. Tammy Hop, an auditor with the Louisiana State Police Gaming Division, gave a report to the commission concerning their projected revenue. “FanDuel expects to generate approximately $1.5 million in daily fantasy sports revenues for its first year of operations in Louisiana,” said Hop.
Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville has been taking sports bets since October 6. The property is not regulated by the state, and belongs to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The compacts the tribes have with the federal government allow them to operate casino games that state voters have approved.
The Draft Room, the new Paragon Casino Resort's sportsbook.
Initially, sports betting will only be allowed in state-regulated casinos, with mobile betting still “a couple of months away” due to the extensive compliance process. The State Police has already investigated all the license properties but vendors for betting websites and apps need a full review that will require more time. Johns said the goal is “to have it up and running by the first of the year”.
Even though some casinos were expected to take bets by mid-September as the Gaming Control Board approved emergency rules to jump-start the licensing process, Hurricane Ida caused a delay as members of the Louisiana State Police’s Gaming Enforcement Division were deployed to help with the storm rescue and recovery. Two weeks went by with the review and approval process on hold.
Furthermore, the regulator voted to approve the sale of Louisiana Downs by Caesars Entertainment to Rubico Gaming for $16.5 million, which has been in the works for more than a year, as reported by WAFB. It will need final approval of the Louisiana Racing Commission during its Oct. 26 meeting.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns said he believes the sale is critical to the future of Louisiana Downs.