• LA SB 153 would legalize sports betting in Louisiana through a parish-by-parish vote.
  • The amendments added in a House committee include the use of official league data and sports betting at video poker terminals.
  • Committee members voted 14-6 to involuntarily defer the Louisiana sports betting bill.

BATON ROUGE, La. – The odds for a Louisiana sports betting bill to pass went from favorable to almost impossible after a committee hearing earlier this week. The House Appropriations Committee voted 16-5 to keep LA SB 153 in committee before ultimately voting 14-6 to involuntarily defer.

The bill suffered from two questionable amendments before the members of the House decided to vote on the measure.

The first of which came in the form of official league data.

“We want the statistics and data for each game to come from the official sports organization which is participating,” Representative Jack McFarland said.

Danny Martiny, the sponsor of LA SB 153, argued against the amendment.

“What these people want to do is they want to be able to provide data. I’m assuming they’re not providing it free of charge,” said Martiny. “From what I’m told, in the areas where sports gaming takes place, this does not occur. And it’s not a problem.”

The only state that has passed a bill with an amendment like this is Tennessee, which has yet to officially launch any online sportsbooks.

The second amendment added was ultimately the fatal blow to the measure. It would allow any location with video poker terminals to convert them into sports betting kiosks.

The state has about 2,800 video poker parlors. Adding this measure expands sports betting to substantially more locations than the original 16 casinos and four racetracks that were put in the bill.

“With the amendments that have been loaded onto this bill, it is untenable,” said Wade Duty, Executive Director of the Louisiana Casino Association. “You have now put enough baggage on the plane it will not get airborne.”

Martiny spoke on the possibility of this measure when the bill passed through the Louisiana Criminal Justice Committee last week.

“I don’t see this bill going through the legislature for 2,800 locations,” he said.

The addition of all these locations will require Martiny to provide a new fiscal note before adjournment. But, the possibility of that happening is highly unlikely as the legislature will adjourn on June 6, 2019.

Is There Any Hope For This Louisiana Sports Betting Bill?

Aside from Martiny’s efforts to pass his bill through committee, help could come from House Representative Joseph Marino. He sponsored House Bill LA HB 587, a bill that would set the effective tax rate for sports betting in Louisiana.

Even though his bill failed to get enough votes to pass on its own, the option to add language from Martiny’s bill and push for a motion to reconsider is still a possibility.

Marino also previously pushed for a motion to discharge the bill from the Appropriations Committee. His efforts came up short there as well. House lawmakers voted 48-41 to remove the bill from committee and put it on the House floor.

The motion only needed five more votes to pass. By adding the original language from Martiny’s bill to his bill, and getting the House to reconsider LA HB 587, it may just be enough to get the five votes necessary to get sports betting legislation out of the chamber.

But, Marino does not seem optimistic about his chances.

“I’ve read the room,” said Marino in an interview after the committee vote this week. “I don’t see any light left at the end of the tunnel. We’re out of time.”

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