US Gambling Legislation Updates: Arizona, Louisiana, and Florida

  • The Arizona Senate is set to vote on sports betting legalization legislation on Monday
  • SB 1797 seeks to allow online sportsbooks and DFS, HB 2772 pushes for legal betting expansion
  • Louisiana will consider a sports betting framework during the upcoming legislative session 
  • A key issue is what establishments will be able to offer sports wagering activity in the state
  • Florida lawmakers want to create the Florida Gaming Control Commission to oversee gambling
  • The Commission bill will come into effect in July this year if there are no objections or halts
woman wrapped in a US flag
Sports betting discussions in Arizona and Louisiana are heating up, while a Florida bill looks to create a new gambling regulatory body. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Sports betting bills and a new regulatory body

Lawmakers in three US states are considering important gambling-related legislation.

Legal sports betting is edging ever closer in Arizona, as it appears that state senators will vote on sports betting legalization legislation on Monday. If the vote is successful, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey could then sign the bill in the coming days. Approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs would also be necessary, but this step would reportedly be a formality.

The creation of Louisiana’s legal sports betting framework is set to be a hot topic as the new legislative session begins Monday. After a public vote took place on the matter in November 2020, 55 of the 64 parishes in the state will eventually be rolling out legal sports betting.

Louisiana’s legal sports betting framework is set to be a hot topic

Finally, sports betting legalization looks like it is off the table for now in Florida. However, the Regulated Industries Committee will meet in the Florida Senate Monday to discuss a proposal that would form the Florida Gaming Control Commission. Another proposed measure would allow pari-mutuel permit holders to have card rooms without the need to also host jai-alai, quarter horse racing, or harness horse racing.

Arizona legalization getting closer

Two bills relating to sports betting in Arizona are currently under consideration as the legislative session April 24 end date looms.

Senate Bill 1797 would allow online sportsbooks and daily fantasy sports, as well as giving social clubs and off-track betting locations the ability to offer limited keno games. After its withdrawal from the Senate Appropriations Committee last Thursday, the bill is set for a full Senate up-and-down vote on Monday.

House Bill 2772 is the other bill that seeks Senate approval for legal sports betting expansion, having already gotten the green light in the House after a 48-12 vote. A two-thirds majority is necessary to approve both bills.

Arizona Governor Ducey has been in support of gambling expansion for some time. During his February State of the State address, he spoke about modernizing the state’s tribal gaming compacts, which would increase revenue for both state and tribes. Professional sports teams in the state, as well as the PGA Tour and Phoenix Raceway, are also in favor of legal sports betting in the state.

As part of SB 1797, the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Coyotes (NHL), Phoenix Suns (NBA), and the Arizona Cardinals (NFL) would be able to offer retail and online sports betting. The retail location would need to be no more than a quarter of a mile from the stadium.

Up to ten sports betting licenses would be available for professional sports teams and organizations. In addition, the tribes in the state would also have access to ten licenses.  

Louisiana to decide on regulations for legal sportsbooks

The Louisiana legislature will be looking at developing the rules and regulations for legal sports betting after it begins a new session today. The process will last until June 10, with the passage of two bills necessary before sports betting can begin.

passage of two bills necessary before sports betting can begin

One bill will outline the licensing process and the sector’s regulations, while the other will decide on the sports betting tax rate. Senate President Page Cortez, who is sponsoring a bill regarding regulations, is reportedly pushing for online sports betting.

A key issue will be where sports betting will be allowable. The state has over a dozen riverboat casinos, four racinos, and a land-based casino. Many bars and restaurants also offer video poker machines. Each of these parties will likely be seeking access to a legal sports betting market. A number of sports betting-related bills will reportedly be under consideration during the session, and Cortez’s position as Senate President will carry a lot of weight.

Florida aims to increase investigative capabilities

While sports betting legalization efforts continue to meet resistance in Florida, other gambling bills are making progress. Senate Bill 7076 calls for the formation of a five-member Florida Gaming Control Commission, which would be a part of the Office of the Attorney General. Such a move would increase prosecutors’ capabilities to investigate illegal gambling. 

A hearing on the bill will take place later on today in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. If there are no objections or the bill is not held up, it will come into effect on July 1, 2021.

Senate Bill 7080 is the legislation that looks to remove restrictions on pari-mutuel facilities when it comes to operating card rooms. Operators of pari-mutuel facilities have been calling for this “decoupling” for years. Card rooms are a more lucrative offering than sporting activities such as jai-alai.