The state of Louisiana is finally seeing increased bipartisan support for legalizing sports betting operations in the casinos. The lawmakers in the state are expected to discuss the option when the next legislative session begins on April 8. Previous attempts to make sports wagering legal in the state through citizen’s voting were unsuccessful, leading to concerns about the impact of lawmakers’ discussion.
Sen. Ronnie Johns from Lake Charles, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary B Committee said that he is certain that sports wagering will be debated in the upcoming legislative session. Since the US Supreme Court declared PASPA unconstitutional, seven states have legalized sports betting within their jurisdictions, and several others are planning to introduce it soon.
Louisiana needs to watch out for Mississippi as it has already legalized sports gambling. Even Gov. John Bel Edwards feels worried that the state’s casinos will lose patronage to Mississippi casinos due to their sports betting advantage. In a recent press meeting, he said that this situation is not in the state’s best interests. He also suggested that the proceeds from sports gambling could be used for the betterment of the state.
It is unclear what kind of legislative regime the state will follow on sports betting operators. There has also not been any clarity on the projected revenue that the state could make by legalizing these wagers. Edwards and Johns both suggest that they do not expect a “major windfall.”
The American Gaming Association estimates that the state could earn anywhere between $245 million to $288 million every year through these wagers. The current tax rates would mean that the state earns anywhere between $52.7 million to $62 million through these revenues. Johns notes that they need to follow the Mississippi route since it offers hotel stays, bar tabs, restaurants, and other amenities, all chargeable that fill their coffers apart from the sports betting offering. According to him, they need to do the same to insulate their businesses as they have already started to lose to Mississippi.
However, even if the state moves forward with a positive attitude, it would be a year before it could accept its first bet. For now, it will be missing out on the NFL playoffs, NCAA basketball and even the NBA playoffs meaning a huge loss in potential revenue for the state. The state will have to fast track its legalization is they want to catch up with other states. If not, the chances of missing out on some major events next year will also be high.