Mobile Sports Betting Bill Clears First Hurdle at Louisiana Capitol

By | May 12, 2021

A bill to allow mobile sports betting in Louisiana has cleared the state House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Senate President Page Cortez (R) already has said he supports mobile wagering on live sporting events.

Rep. John Stefanski
From left, Sen. Page Cortez, Rep. John Stefanski, and Rep. Clay Schexnayder confer at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. This year’s legislative session ends June 10. (Image: Associated Press)

House Bill 697 by Rep. John Stefanski (R) would allow sports bettors in the state to place wagers on mobile devices, such as smartphones. 

The measure passed in the House on Monday on a 78-24 vote, according to the Louisiana State Legislature bill-tracking website. Stefanski represents the South Louisiana town of Crowley.

The people spoke,” Stefanski said after Monday’s vote.

Cortez, who represents Lafayette, has said sports betting will generate “meaningful revenue” only if allowed on mobile devices. He has estimated mobile sports betting could generate $10 million to $20 million in tax revenue each year. 

In addition to allowing mobile sports betting, HB697 sets a 10 percent tax rate on sports bets placed in person at casinos, according to the Baton Rouge Business Report. The mobile tax rate would be 18 percent.

Under Stefanski’s bill, betting kiosks would be allowed in bars and other places that have legal video poker terminals. 

Many truck stops and bars across the state are equipped with video poker machines. The owners of these establishments had expressed concern that sports betting would cut into their video poker business, according to the Business Report.

Bordering States Lack Mobile Betting

In Mississippi, which borders Louisiana to the east, mobile betting is allowed if the person placing a wager is on casino property. However, none of the 26 commercial casinos in Mississippi offer that service, Allen Godfrey, spokesman for the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told Casino.org.

In Arkansas, legal sports betting only occurs at ticket windows or kiosks inside the state’s three casinos. Arkansas borders Louisiana to the north.

Texas, the bordering state on the west, does not permit legal sports betting.

Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. Racinos are horse tracks that have table games and slot machines. 

Two other riverboat casinos are licensed in the state. However, one riverboat in the Shreveport-Bossier City area has closed permanently. Another in Lake Charles was damaged during last year’s hurricane season and is closed temporarily. Riverboat casinos in Louisiana now are allowed to operate on shore. 

June Deadline

In November, voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes supported a ballot measure to permit sports betting within the boundaries of their parish. 

The vote passed overwhelmingly in the parishes where the large cities, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans, are located. The measure did not specify whether sports betting could be done on mobile devices.

The Louisiana legislative session ends on June 10 at 6 pm at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. State officials have said that with taxation and regulation issues to be resolved, sports betting probably won’t be up and running in Louisiana until 2022.

The state is considered a hotbed for sports enthusiasts. New Orleans is home to two professional teams, the NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Pelicans. The state also has an active base of collegiate sports fans, especially for football.

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