Sports betting in Louisiana will be taxed at a lower level than casino games when lawmakers set rates in the upcoming legislative session, a key state senator said.
Sen. Ronnie Johns (R) said the state has to be careful not to place a high tax on sports betting, according to the LSU Manship School News Service. Casino games in Louisiana are taxed at 21.5 percent.
“We tax the 15 riverboat licenses and the land-based casinos a 21 percent tax,” Johns said. “Sports betting won’t be taxed at that rate. We have to be very careful in not overtaxing sports betting because, if you do so, you’re going to severely limit the number of entities around the state that would be willing to inject into the sports betting business.”
In the November election, Louisiana voters approved sports betting in 55 of 64 parishes. The vote allows sports betting within the boundaries of the parish where it was approved. The measure passed overwhelming in the parishes where the larger cities, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans, are located.
However, several issues remain the be decided before bettors can place legal sports wagers in the state.
When the Legislature meets at the Capitol in Baton Rouge on April 12, lawmakers will have to determine tax rates and regulation issues. Lawmakers also have to decide whether people will be allowed to bet using a smartphone or only in-person inside a casino at a sportsbook or kiosk.
Plan in Place
Johns said lawmakers will have a plan in place on sports betting before the Legislature meets in April, according to LSU’s student news service.
The two-month legislative ends June 10. Tax issues only can be addressed in odd-numbered years. Without a decision this year, the next effort to tax sports betting won’t occur until 2023.
State officials already have predicted bettors won’t be able to place legal sports wagers in the state at least until 2022, even if things run smoothly at the Capitol this year.
Johns is confident the remaining issues will be resolved this year. The Advocate newspaper refers to the Lake Charles Republican as the “go-to” legislator on gambling matters.
“I will assure you that we will have an agreement between all parties before the legislature in April with the final proposal,” Johns said. “There is absolutely a lot of discussion going on right now, among all parties involved.”
Fantasy Sports Betting on Horizon
On Feb. 19, the Louisiana State Police gaming enforcement division will begin accepting applicants for companies wanting to provide fantasy sport betting games in Louisiana.
In 2018, voters in 47 parishes approved fantasy sports betting within their parish. Last year, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board decided on an 8 percent tax on net revenue from fantasy sports betting. The money will go to help fund early childhood education, according to the student news service.
State officials have said the process to approve fantasy sports betting companies could take 60 to 90 days. That means fantasy sports betting could be in operation in time for the fall football season.
In fantasy sports betting, users select a virtual team of real players and compile statistics from that week’s actual games for an overall point total. The point total is matched against other users to determine a winner.
In regular sports wagering, a bettor selects one real team over another.
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