Legislative Efforts to Expand Gambling Markets Face Setbacks in Louisiana, Maine, and Ohio

  • Louisiana sports betting faces a delay due to the lack of a Gaming Control Board chair
  • Sen. Cortez has announced that the market can not proceed until an appointment is made
  • Maine Gov. Mills has rejected a tribal gaming bill, but sports betting legislation has progressed
  • Ohio officials have missed a deadline for betting legislation and will reopen discussions this fall
A wooden gavel labeled Gaming Law
Gambling backers in the states of Louisiana, Maine, and Ohio may now have to wait longer for market expansions with legislative efforts facing setbacks this week. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A blow to gambling fans

It’s bad news for gambling backers in the states of Louisiana, Maine and Ohio this week. Legislative efforts to add to the gambling options available in each of the states have experienced setbacks.

the Louisiana regulator is unable to promulgate rules for the new market

Sports betting fans in Louisiana will have to wait a while longer before they are able to place their first legal wagers. Senate President Page Cortez has announced a delay to the market’s implementation due to the lack of a Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) chair. Without a chief, the Louisiana regulator is unable to promulgate wagering rules.

In Maine, the governor has vetoed legislation which would have allowed the state’s tribes to launch casino gaming on their land. Gov. Janet Mills described the bill as “flawed,” despite it receiving overwhelming support from other lawmakers. A sports betting bill progressed through the Maine House on Wednesday however.

Finally, in another blow to betting fans, Ohio legislators must now wait until the fall to discuss the legalization of retail and online sports wagering. Lawmakers missed their target date to finalize sports betting legislation this week. The session adjourned for the summer on Wednesday and will not return until September 15.

Cortez reveals betting delay

Louisiana lawmakers passed the final two bills for the state’s legal sports betting framework last month. In doing so, they opened the door for legal sports wagering in the state, granting the wishes of 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

For the time being however, that door has swung shut once more. In an interview with USA Today Network on Tuesday, Louisiana Senate President Page Cortez announced a delay to the implementation of sports betting. In what he described as “a little bit of a hiccup,” he explained that the lack of a Gaming Control Board chair meant the market could not proceed.

Facing a Senate confirmation hearing about previous work with the state police, former LGCB chairman Mike Noel resigned on June 9. He served as Louisiana state police chief of staff during the fatal arrest of Ronald Greene in May 2019. Noel gained the position of LGCB chair in June 2020.

Louisiana’s sports betting legislation has emergency status, meaning the laws are effective starting July 1. However, Cortez has made clear that a launch is not possible for the time being. In regards to the vacant chair position, a spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards told USA Today Network on Tuesday that he “looks forward to making an appointment sooner rather than later.”

Maine governor rejects gaming bill

Earlier this month, Maine legislators approved a bill seeking to introduce casinos on tribal land. The legislation received widespread support from lawmakers and the state’s four tribal organizations. However, Governor Janet Mills has put a spanner in the works by vetoeing the bill this week.

the bill failed to reference the size or placement of the casinos

Mills argued that the legislation was lacking in details on several key areas. She said it failed to discuss the issue of taxation and didn’t include information in regards to state-regulated health and safety protocols. The governor also argued that the bill failed to reference the size or placement of the casinos.

Despite the failure of the tribal legislation, Maine could see a gambling expansion through other means. On Wednesday, a bill which would legalize statewide mobile sports betting made it through the House. LD 1352 now must pass through the Appropriations Table and the Senate before heading to Mills for final approval.

That said, Mills has stood in the way of sports betting legislation in the past. If the bill makes it to her desk, she will have ten days to veto or sign it.

Ohio lawmakers miss their deadline

In Ohio, legislators have been attempting to develop the framework for legal sports betting since the beginning of the year. However, the summer legislative session ended on Wednesday without officials finalizing wagering legislation.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, lawmakers will discuss the details of the market when the legislature returns from its break in September. House Speaker Bob Cupp told the Enquirer: “Over the summer, we’re going to be working on that to try to finalize so when we come back in September, that’s one of the first things we do. That’s our goal and that’s our hope.”

There are currently two bills up for discussion in Ohio, Senate Bill 176 and House Bill 29. Last month, legislators added a list of amendments to SB 176, including a new type of license for betting kiosks at venues with liquor permits. The bill now also gives preferential treatment to Ohio’s sports leagues for licenses.