The ink on the bills for sports gambling in the legislative session hasn’t had a chance to dry. But, legislators in Louisiana are already preparing to move forward. The Louisiana House has several propositions floating around on how to spend the anticipated profits from sports gambling. Louisiana was one of the first states to legalize gambling during the era of the riverboats. Louisiana was also one of the first states to legalize gambling during the 1990s. Now, the state hopes to extend its gambling reach to sports gambling as well.
The Gambling Market in Louisiana
Louisiana has been a gambling state for much of its history. When the French colonized Louisiana, they brought criminals, debtors, and gamblers to the territory. Gambling became very popular along the Mississippi River as riverboats began to move up and down it. The boats went to Memphis and points farther north. Riverboats had card games and dice games. The classiest riverboats had a running poker game. There were also large casinos in the New Orleans brothels.
Louisiana has had legalized casino betting since the early 1990s. At first, the state limited casino gambling to boats that traveled up and down the river. However, as the decade wore on, the state decided to allow the riverboats to dock. The law also allowed for a land-based casino in New Orleans. Louisiana also has a lottery, charitable gaming, and horse racing.
The Legislature voted last year to allow parishes to decide whether they wanted to legalize daily fantasy sports leagues. Out of the state’s 64 parishes, 47 voted in favor of the measure.
Current Legislative Bills
Fantasy Sports Legislation
There are two bills before the Louisiana State Legislature that deal with gambling. The first, House Bill 495, deals sports fantasy teams and the gambling proceeds. The state would tax gambling revenue at 8 percent of the monthly net proceeds from fantasy sports. Each business that wants to become involved in daily fantasy sports will pay $5,000 each year for a license. Nearly all the money from fantasy sports revenue will go into the Early Childhood Education Fund. Currently, the education fund helps support prekindergarten programs in the state for children in poverty. One of the goals for Louisiana is to have pre-k programs available for any child to attend. The state will use a small portion of the gambling revenue to fund programs for problem gamblers.
Experts estimate most people who play daily fantasy sports average about $500 per year to play. The players can choose to play apps on their phones or online. They also estimate the state will receive about $375,000 from the tax revenue from daily fantasy sports. There has been some push back on the legislation from the state’s casinos. They do not agree with the proposed bill because of the daily fantasy sports lower tax rate. Casinos pay 22 percent of their revenue in taxes.
House Bill 498 would allow tax payments for sports gambling on college and professional sporting events. The state would tax these proceeds at 8 percent. If legislators approve this bill, people could gamble at the riverboat casinos and racinos throughout the state. Louisiana would also require a special sportsbook license for $5,000 each year. Legislative watchdogs said it’s interesting to see this bill get a more favorable reception than Senate Bill 153. This bill is actually the one that would legalize sports betting. Right now, it is sitting in a committee.
If the legislature approves the sports gambling bill, parishes would vote on whether to allow gambling. Also, if the bill receives approval, and sportsbook gambling begins, it’ll be a year before the state sees any revenue.
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