Louisiana State Senator Ronnie Johns

  • The Louisiana State Legislature will hold a debate for Senate Bill 130 on May 27 to put legalizing sports betting on the November 2020 ballot.
  • Senator Ronnie Johns, a sponsor for LA SB 130 spoke to LegalSportsBetting and is positive about the future of legal sports betting in Louisiana.
  • Sports betting in Louisiana would likely launch in early 2022 should LA SB 130 pass before the Louisiana Legislature ends their session on Monday.

BATON ROUGE, La. – The state of Louisiana is one day closer to getting sports betting on the November 2020 ballot and LegalSportsBetting sat down with Senator Ronnie Johns to discuss the bill.

Senate Bill 130 is a referendum bill that Senator Johns is a sponsor of. The bill has passed through the Senate and a bulk of the House.

Having a House debate on Wednesday, it is in the final stretch before being put to a vote this Fall by constituents.

Senate Bill 130 was first introduced to the Senate on March 9. After minor setbacks due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, it was heard again on May 7 and passed on May 13 where it moved to the House.

It’s seen favorable results in the House and will now be up for debate on May 27. With less than one week left in the session, a decision needs to be made quickly, but Senator Ronnie Johns believes there is enough time.

“We absolutely have time to pass this legislation before we end this session on June 1,” said Johns.

The bill itself could not be more simple in the way that it’s presented. It merely asks the Louisiana State Legislature to allow the public to be offered this question on the November 2020 ballot in all 64 parishes: “Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of _____?” Any further details would be discussed in the 2021 session after residents voted on legalizing sports betting in their parish.

Words From Senator Ronnie Johns

Senator Johns is a sports betting advocate for the Pelican State as he is aware of how lucrative the industry is and what that could mean for the Louisiana economy in legalizing the market.

“I am very much in favor of sports betting in Louisiana. Gaming has become a huge industry in our state with approximately 35,000 employees and it has also become a very large contributor to our state budget,” said Johns. “Gaming overall contributes close to $1 billion in tax revenue for our state’s budget. That is close to 10% of our state’s General Fund revenue. Legalizing sports betting will help us to attract new customers and help insulate this industry from out of state competition.”

Having a parish-by-parish bill could be seen as making the gambling on sporting events somewhat individualized to the wants and needs of each parish.

Of course, all of the odds and ends would ultimately be discussed and voted on in 2021 during the next session. The rules and regulations will come down to one set of combined and agreed upon stipulations with what the parishes that voted for legal sports betting have voiced their opinions on.

“The parish-by-parish part is not a problem. The regulation of sports betting will be uniform in the parishes that approve it. For those parishes that oppose it, it simply means that parish will not be able to participate when legal sports betting is implemented.” said Johns.

Senator Johns sees the setup of LA SB 130 as a positive for both legislators statewide and future discussions.

“With a parish by parish referendum set up for the coming election in November, it will give legislators from all parts of the state a clear picture of what their constituents are in favor of. That will give us an advantage next year when we introduce the enabling legislation to set up the operation of sports betting and also the taxation of the program,” said Johns.

The biggest opposition in the state for making gambling on sports matchups legal has come from the Louisiana Family Forum according to Senator Johns.

The Forum is a conservative church organization that is opposed to all types of gambling from becoming a legal pastime in the Pelican State based on their personal philosophical views.

They have made their stance on LA SB 130 known to the Louisiana State Legislature throughout the process of legalizing the bill.

Another referendum bill has entered the race to make sports betting legal in Louisiana. House Bill 357 is the same as LA SB 130 but offers a small difference regarding its wording.

LA HB 357 is not as far along as the Senate Bill, which only has one last step and each has the same date of session adjournment which is approaching quickly on June 1.

Of the two, Senate Bill 130 is Louisiana’s best bet for legal sports betting to become a reality at this point in the session.

The Future Of Legal Sports Betting In Louisiana

If Senate Bill 130 passes on the House Floor without any amendments on Wednesday, it will then be sent to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk for signature per Senator Johns.

The Governor has 20 days after receiving the bill to sign or veto it. If he chooses to do nothing, it passes by default.

Should Edwards pass the bill, the people of Louisiana can expect to see the subject of legalizing Louisiana sports betting in their parish on the ballot in November.

By 10 p.m. on November 3, they will know how their respective towns have voted on the issue.

“The passage of LA SB 130 this year is just the first step in getting sports betting to become legal in Louisiana. In the 2021 session next spring we will have to pass the enabling legislation as well as the taxing legislation,” said Johns. “Implementation at the earliest would be late 2021 or early 2022. I am very optimistic about the future of legal sports betting in our state.”

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