Louisiana Sports Betting Decision Goes to a Public Vote

  • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed the sports betting bill on June 11
  • The measure will now be voted upon by residents of each parish in a November 3 referendum
  • Lawmakers and the Gaming Control Board would develop regulations in 2021
Two women voting at a polling place
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill that puts the future of legal sports betting in the hands of parish voters via a November referendum. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

One final stage

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed a bill that will allow voters to decide if their parishes will have legal sports betting. 

Senate Bill 130, introduced by Senator Cameron Henry, puts a referendum on the November 3 ballot to be decided upon on a parish-by-parish basis. A majority is needed in a given parish to approve the measure. 

Governor Edwards signed the bill on June 11 after it was approved by both the state Senate and House of Representatives in late May.

Rolling out sports betting

If parishes approve sports betting, state lawmakers will work alongside the Gaming Control Board to create rules regarding the regulation, taxation, and licensing of the industry. In Louisiana, such measures can only be approved in a fiscal (odd-numbered) year unless there is a special fiscal session called by the state governor. 

if regulations are not agreed upon in 2021, bettors would likely have to wait until 2023

This often leads to legislative delays. For sports betting, this would mean that if regulations are not agreed upon in 2021, bettors would likely have to wait until 2023 for sportsbooks to open in the state.

The possibility for such delays was on display when state lawmakers worked on the rules for fantasy sports. After 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted in favor of legalizing daily fantasy sports in 2018, the DFS regulations bill was blocked the following year by Senator Daniel Martiny, pushing daily fantasy back.

Governor Edwards finally signed a bill to regulate DFS last week. It will impose an 8% tax rate on fantasy sports operators.

Gambling sector moves in Louisiana

The news that the governor signed the sports betting bill comes a few weeks after several of the state’s casinos finally reopened following the COVID-19 shutdown. Louisiana casinos were among the first to open up, nearly a month ago. New Orleans casinos were permitted to reopen this past weekend.

Governor Edwards also named a new Gaming Control Board chairman recently after the state Senate did not reappoint Ronnie Jones for another term.