Sports betting is coming to Louisiana: 9 things you need to know

State lawmakers approved a set of sports betting rules and taxes

By: - June 10, 2021 11:18 am
Sports betting bill clears committee

New Orleans is requiring either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to participate in certain indoor activities, including attendance at Saints games. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Louisiana residents may be placing bets on sports as early as fall, now that the Louisiana Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a framework for legal sports wagering. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards has been supportive of sports betting and is expected to sign legislation associated with it. 

The following are some facts that you should know about Louisiana’s sports betting plan:

You should be able to place bets in person at casinos, racetracks and bars 

Louisiana will issue 20 sports wagering business licenses and allow the Louisiana Lottery to hire an outside firm to run one additional sports betting operation, according to Senate Bill 247.

The state’s 16 casinos and four racetracks with slot machines will have the first crack at running sports wagering operations on their premises. If they aren’t interested, then video poker outlets — often called truck stop casinos — will get a chance to apply to run sports books.

The Louisiana Lottery will oversee all sports betting kiosks found in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. There is no cap on the number of bar and restaurant locations that will be allowed to have on-site sports betting.

Sports betting on mobile phones will also be available in 55 of 65 parishes 

Sports wagering will also be available over the internet and through mobile phone apps in 55 of 64 parishes in Louisiana — all the places where residents voted to allow sports betting in their communities last fall. 

A person will have to be physically in one of the parishes where sports betting is allowed in order to place a bet. If a person crosses into a parish without sports betting, the wagering websites and apps won’t work.

Casinos, racetracks and the Louisiana Lottery are expected to own the sports wagering websites and mobile apps that are allowed in Louisiana. 

You will have to be 21 years old to place a sports bet

Sports betting operators are supposed to make a reasonable effort to ensure every person who places a bet — whether in-person or over the internet — is not under the age of 21. 

You will not be able to bet on high school sports, many athletes under 18

Louisiana residents will be able to bet on professional, college and amateur sports of all kinds, including international competitions. But high school sporting events and sports that primarily involve minor athletes will be off limits, according to legislation sponsored by Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette.

The state will also prohibit players, referees and coaches from placing bets on sporting events in which they are participating. 

You will be able to bet on game outcomes — but also play within games 

A person won’t just be able to bet on the outcomes of games or seasons, but also what happens during plays inside of games. People will be able to make short-term bets on action that takes place in a matter of minutes — such as how far a player is able to kick a ball. 

Some types of bets will be prohibited. People will not be able to bet on injuries to athletes or the outcome of disciplinary proceedings. 

The Gaming Control Board will be able to halt betting on events over ‘integrity’ worries

Senate Bill 247 includes provisions that allow the gaming control board to intervene if they are concerned that a game or sporting event might be thrown or influenced by betting. 

Some sports betting revenue is supposed to go toward people with disabilities, early childhood education

Sports wagering operations will have to pay taxes on money collected after paying out winners. The tax rate will be 10 percent on earnings from in-person bets and 15 percent on earnings from mobile and online bets, according to House Bill 697

Legislative fiscal analysts have been unable to estimate how much tax revenue sports betting might produce in Louisiana. Mississippi collected $5.3 million in tax revenue from sports betting in one full year of operation before the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Mississippi’s sports betting rules are also more restrictive than the rules Louisiana plans to adopt.

Lawmakers have a preliminary plan for how the money earned from sports betting will be divided — which still needs final approval from the Legislature. 

Money earned from the Louisiana Lottery’s sports betting operation — which will be available in bars, restaurants and on the internet — will go to K-12 schools and programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

The sports betting tax revenue that is expected to come from casinos and racetracks will mostly be unrestricted state funding, but lawmakers are currently planning to devote 39 percent of the funding to specific causes. 

Senate Bill 142, from Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, allocates one percent of that revenue to gambling addiction treatment, one percent to racetrack purses, two percent to services for people with disabilities, 12 percent to local governments where the casinos and racetracks are located, and 25 percent to early childhood education programs. Ward has placed a cap of $10 million on the early childhood education funding. If it reaches that threshold, the funding will then become unrestricted.

Unclaimed winnings will go to pay for medical exams for rape victims

Any winnings that aren’t claimed by a person will be sent to the state’s Victims Reparations Fund and used to reimburse hospitals for rape victims’ forensic medical exams and DNA analysis related to rape cases. Betters will have six months from winning money to collect their award. 

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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press.