Lawmakers Pass Final Piece of Sports Betting Puzzle
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Lawmakers have given final passage to rules that will allow the wagering through sports book sites, mobile apps and kiosk locations in parishes where voters supported the activity. The bill essentially sets the rules and regulations for legalized sports betting.
A 33-3 Senate vote Thursday sent the regulatory bill to the governor’s desk. Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign the measure and pave the way for betting on sports events to begin as early as the fall. Earlier this month, Governor Edwards signed legislation setting the tax rates for sports betting with a 15% tax on mobile betting and a 10% tax for betting at authorized locations.
The bill lets anyone 21 and older place bets on their mobile device, computer, or at select locations such as sportsbooks and Louisiana Lottery-run kiosks in any of the 55 parishes that voted to approve the activity. Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes agreed to allow sports betting on live-action games, but lawmakers had to set the rules and the tax rates before the gambling can begin. The tax bill received final legislative passage earlier in the session.
“We put this to a vote. This isn’t just the Legislature telling folks, "Hey, this is what we are going to throw on y’all,' People went to the ballot box and voted on this and said this is what they wanted and it passed pretty overwhelmingly,” said Crowley Representative John Stefanski, who wrote the bill setting tax and fee rates for sports betting.
The ability to place bets anywhere in approved parishes is a major expansion from initial proposals that would have only allowed betting at casinos. Stefanski said it was a question of equity for rural areas that vote to approve the activity and a revenue necessity.
“Mobile makes the most sense. Mobile makes it the easiest for our citizens to access, and it creates the biggest revenue source for our state as well,” said Stefanski. “You have big parts of our state that don’t have any casinos. So, let’s say we settled on those traditional facilities for sports betting with no mobile, then you are really limiting who can participate.”
Bars and restaurants will have the option of paying a $10,000 fee to establish a sports betting kiosk at their business. That means bets will be taxed at the lower rate. Bets can also be placed at sportsbooks in casinos.
(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network and MELINDA DESLATTE/AP)