Update on Sports Wagering in Louisiana

We write with an update on the status of sports wagering in Louisiana. In our May 2019 article titled “Sports Wagering in Louisiana Might Be on the Horizon,” we provided an overview of Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Senator Danny Martiny (R-Metairie), and its efforts to legalize sports wagering in Louisiana. As of May 22, the date on which our prior article was published, the Senate had passed Senate Bill 153 by a 24-15 vote, and the bill was awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives after being reported favorably out of the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice. At the time, it appeared that sports wagering might soon be made legal in Louisiana, but things quickly changed as the bill progressed in the House.

On May 29, Senate Bill 153 was referred to the House Appropriations Committee, which ultimately proved fatal to the bill’s success. In considering Senate Bill 153, the House Appropriations Committee tacked on several amendments that would have greatly expanded the availability of sports wagering in Louisiana beyond what was initially contemplated. As originally drafted, Senate Bill 153 proposed to legalize sports wagering only at licensed riverboat casinos, live horse racing facilities, and the land-based casino in New Orleans. The amendments proposed by the House Appropriations Committee, however, would have allowed sports wagering to also be offered at the approximately 2,800 licensed video poker establishments in Louisiana. The amendments thus quickly drew the ire of the casino industry in Louisiana, which ultimately withdrew its support of the amended bill. With support for Senate Bill 153 dwindling, the House Appropriations Committee involuntarily deferred the bill, which was never considered by the full House. Continue Reading

Sports Wagering in Louisiana Might Be on the Horizon

With the introduction and serious consideration of Senate Bill 153 during the 2019 Regular Session, Louisiana is primed to join the growing number of states that have legalized sports wagering in recent years.

Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Senator Danny Martiny (R-Metairie), would authorize sports wagering in Louisiana. The bill, if passed, would call for a public referendum to be held on October 12, 2019, in which the majority of the voters in each parish would decide whether to legalize sports wagering in their respective parishes. If the bill is approved by the voters of a particular parish, sports wagering on collegiate and professional sporting events could then be offered in that parish by licensed riverboat casinos or any live racing facilities with licensed slot machine gaming areas. If the bill is approved by the voters of Orleans Parish, the land-based casino in New Orleans would also be authorized to begin offering sports wagering to its patrons. However, before making sports wagering available, any such facility would first be required to apply to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board for prior approval to offer sports wagering and to obtain a sports wagering certificate from the Board.

The bill provides for the enactment of the Louisiana Sports Wagering Control Act (the Act) to govern sports wagering, including the process of applying for and obtaining sports wagering certificates. Importantly, the Act provides that, if sports wagering were to be approved by the majority of the voters in a particular parish, authorized facilities (i.e., riverboat casinos, live racing facilities, or the land-based casino) could begin applying for sports wagering certificates on January 1, 2020. The Act provides that a sports wagering certificate shall not be issued following an application unless the Louisiana Gaming Control Board specifically finds that (1) the applicant is capable of conducting sports wagering, and (2) the applicant’s submission of a detailed plan relative to the design of the areas of its establishment to be used for sports wagering is acceptable. Only if the Louisiana Gaming Control Board so finds will the Board issue a sports wagering certificate to an applicant, provided that the Board has received payment of the applicable fees to be set by the Board. Continue Reading