Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee has passed Senate Bill 130 forward which would put the issue of sports betting to individual parishes to vote on this November.

  • Lawmakers are looking to get Louisiana sports betting on the November 2020 ballot for people to vote on the topic.
  • Voting on sports betting in Louisiana would happen at a parish-by-parish level.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee decided to move Senate Bill 130 forward in its quest toward legalization.

NEW ORLEANS – A new Louisiana sports betting bill has made its way to the state legislature and was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday where it was passed to move forward.

Senate Bill 130 is a referendum style bill that would get sports betting on the November 2020 ballot for the people to vote on. Sports betting legalization would not be done on a statewide basis but by a parish to parish basis depending on how the people of each parish vote.

There are 64 parishes in Louisiana that would vote in favor or against legal Louisiana sportsbooks in their community if LA SB 130 is passed through the legislature this session.

Similar legislation occurred in 2018 with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) where 47 of the 64 parishes voted in favor of legal DFS for their towns. This is the way in which sports betting would be done.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to a very shortened session in Louisiana. The session opened on March 9 only to be shut down on March 15 for seven weeks because of COVID-19. On May 4, the session resumed with the original adjournment date of June 1 still in place.

This leaves a very small window for a number of bills to be heard which is why Senator Cameron Henry, one of the sponsors for LA SB 130, believes that this style of the bill is the best bet to be passed given the limited amount of time.

No real rules and regulations need to be drawn up as it’s merely asking to be placed on the November ballot to have the people vote on it.

Put very simply and to the point, Senate Bill 130 states:

“Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of _____?” which is what would be asked on the November ballot to each parish.

Once a parish approves sports betting, a new bill will need to be heard in the 2021 session. Should that bill pass with a two-thirds majority vote, Louisiana will have legal sports betting by the 2021 NFL season.

The Hearing

One of the main bill sponsors, Senator Cameron Henry spoke for Senate Bill 130 at the hearing on Tuesday. Senator John Smith presided over the day’s events.

“This is a bill that will have a referendum to legalize sports wagering in Louisiana by parish. I have one amendment; the amendment will clarify that the Gaming Control Board will be in charge of regulating this industry. In the current form of the bill, we do not specify who will do it. This just simply says the Gaming Control Board who oversees the majority of gaming of Louisiana, who is very well capable and prepared of doing such a thing will be in charge of it. The bill does not specify who will be able to sports wager and who will not, it just says let’s go parish by parish and see who wants it and then we’ll have the joy of figuring it out next session, “ said Senator Henry in his introduction of LA SB 130.

Senator Smith then went on to point out the history of sports betting legislation in Louisiana. He even pointed to last year’s failed attempts to get this issue on the ballot.

“And this is something that we have talked about for several sessions now, over several years. We went all the way through the process last time only to get snagged at the very end. And you’ve worked hard to work with each of the different groups, I know over this period to have the best posture for the state of Louisiana at this time so we can get something out there and we don’t miss another year,” said Senator Smith.

Senator Henry then doubled down on the immediate need to have parishes vote on whether or not they want sports betting in their area.

“Everyone involved that had questions last term seemed to be on page with knowing that we just need to get this on the ballot and then from there we’ll work together to get something out that works for Louisiana,” said Senator Henry.

After these two spoke, Senator Ronnie Johns spoke as well.

“Senator Henry, just to make it clear to all of our members, this strictly sets up the referendum, it does not enact sports betting in any way, shape, or form. It strictly gives people of this state the opportunity, just like many years ago when the riverboats came in and video poker came in, people had the opportunity to vote it up or vote it down. This is strictly the referendum bill,” said Senator Johns.

To follow up, Senator Henry said his bill “simply allows your constituents to voice their opinion on this issue, that’s all it does, parish by parish.”

In The End

The amendment to have the Louisiana Gaming Control Board as the regulator for the sports betting market in Louisiana was adopted and Senate Bill 130 was voted to move forward without objection. The state has until June 1 to pass the bill through in order to get it to the November 2020 ballot. With any luck, the parishes of Louisiana will be seeing legalized sports betting in 2021.

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