Legislators aren't sure what "sports betting" will be like in Louisiana, who gets to participate, and how when the legislature meets on April 12th.
A sure bet, however, is that legislation that allows Louisiana residents to wager on football, basketball and other sports in any form will be in place and passed by June 10, when lawmakers leave Baton Rouge.
"It has to be," said Senator Ronnie Johns, a Lake Charles Republican who is believed to be the gambling legislature. If not, it will be another two years before sports betting takes place as tax measures can only be taken into account in odd years. That is, at least three years before tax revenue can be collected for the treasury.
"We have to take our shot now," said Johns.
The state is already several years behind competitors like Mississippi when it comes to "sports betting". Meanwhile, lawmakers in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, and several other states have already convened and passed laws to get sports betting going in their jurisdiction. Half of the state's 50 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting since 2018, according to ESPN, after the US Supreme Court allowed states to get involved.
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John's biggest nightmare is when Texas allows gambling, including sports betting, as his district has three Las Vegas-style casinos that are a two-hour drive away for the 7 million people in the Houston metropolitan area. That concern was eased somewhat last week when the Texas governor, who has much more power than the post allows in most states, discovered that game accounts had stalled due to disputes between special interests. "And so it won't even see the light of day at this meeting," said Dan Patrick, governor of Texas, in a radio interview on Tuesday.
In 2020, Pennsylvania residents put $ 3.5 billion on sporting events. For New Jersey, the handle – how much money people wagered – was more than $ 5 billion, according to The Sports Betting Network.
In Louisiana, many special interests as well as the state government want to join.
Louisiana has 13 riverboat casinos that are now allowed to go ashore, a land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos, slots, and table games that can be found in commercial casinos but are located on horse tracks.
Video poker machine operators who have found truck stops, bars, restaurants and elsewhere also want a part of the action. As are the traditional sports bars with lots of TV screens, fried food and beer for customers who want to use a properly connected kiosk to bet on the games they are watching.
Like other lawmakers, Johns is drafting a bill but is not yet sure what the measure will say as all interested parties are still negotiating. "Right now there are all kinds of moving parts from the industry and those who want to attend," he added.
"We're working on a draft," said Wade Duty, executive director of the Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Casino Association. However, the final version must be accepted by the casinos that are members of the club. The invoice describes how sports betting works.
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"The good news is that the silver lining is the fact that Louisiana, four years after some states have completed operational sports betting, we can see and see what has worked well in other states," said Duty.
Louisiana lawmakers must decide whether to allow mobile sports betting or restrict sports betting to in-person betting at a casino. A second calculation, which can only start in-house, sets the tax rates for the game.
The first step is to determine if online betting should be allowed. This gives customers the ability to place mobile bets using their cell phones.
The technology is such that one bettor can drive Interstate 10 or wait in line for donuts and place a bet on the LSU Tigers. The "geo-fencing" technology is such that the wager can be placed in any of the 55 communities that voted for sports betting, but not in any of the nine mostly rural communities in northern Louisiana whose voters turned it down. That's essentially what New Jersey does.
New Jersey took advantage of relationships with existing casinos within the state. The operators were allowed to sign apps that could take bets from anywhere in Garden State. New Jersey regulators had already investigated the players and knew the casinos were familiar with the rules and protocols.
But New Jersey has roughly twice the population of Louisiana – nearly 9 million people – and a median household income that is almost twice that of Louisiana at about $ 110,000. One part of the state belongs to the 20.3 million people in the greater New York area and the other part belongs to the greater Philadelphia area with 6.1 million people.
The alternative would be to require the bettor to show up in person to place what is known as the Mississippi Model. Sports betting is allowed in casinos – Mississippi has 26 of them. In December, Mississippi collected $ 7.8 million in taxes on sports betting for $ 55.3 million.
Mississippi lawmakers, which met on Jan. 5, flirted with legislation that would allow people in Magnolia state to use mobile devices to bet on sporting events. Republican Senator Philip Moran of the Kiln and sponsor of Senate Bill 2732 found that Mississippi's northern neighbor, Tennessee, legalized mobile sports betting in November. Tennessee levied privilege taxes of $ 5.4 million in the first two months of its online-only sports betting program, the Associated Press reported. In November and December, online bettors placed $ 312.3 million in sports betting in the volunteer state.
But Mississippi wasn't quite ready for mobile betting as of Feb. 2, and legislative committees rejected both Senate bills.
What Louisiana tax rates will look like depends largely on whether lawmakers allow mobile betting or whether bettors have to physically go to the casinos.
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Tax rates could go up to 20%, which is what lawmakers were aiming for in 2019 when efforts failed. Most casino game income is taxed at 21.5% in Louisiana.
"We have to get away from it," Duty said of sports betting when the number gets that high. "There is something the legislature doesn't understand and that's not a godsend for casinos, it's a convenience."
The idea is to attract customers to the property and play other games there, eat in the restaurants, maybe spend the night and see a show.
Anything above a 10% tax rate makes sports betting financially unfeasible for the casinos, Johns said.