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Louisiana Takes Steps to Finally Legalize Betting

Louisiana is a state with a rich sporting history, thanks primarily to the presence of teams like the New Orleans Saints in the NFL and the collegiate powerhouse that is the LSU Tigers. But Louisiana is still without legal sports betting, something that some lawmakers within the state are looking to change. The latest step in that process has been the introduction of bills that would bring the choice to legalize sports betting into the hands of the people of Louisiana.

A unique referendum situation

Two bills have been pre-filed for the upcoming Louisiana state legislative session that deal with sports betting legalization. These bills, Senate Bill 130 and SB 66, would bring the legalization of sports wagering to a statewide vote. But unlike many states that have seen sports betting legislation legalized for either the entire state or none of the state, these bills would allow each individual parish to decide whether or not to legalize the activity.

In Louisiana, a parish is what is more commonly referred to as a county throughout the rest of the country. Rather than the entire state legalizing sports betting if the majority of its voters voted in favor, each individual parish will have its votes counted to decide whether or not bets could be placed there. The parish by parish approach is a part of the state constitution’s rules on the introduction of new gambling legalization.

Senator Barrow Peacock is one of the lawmakers responsible for the introduction of new sports betting legislation. He has stated in an interview with Louisiana news station KEEL that legalization would allow bets to take place at riverboat casinos, racetracks, and the physical casino location in New Orleans. 

Nearby states taking advantage for now

The lack of legal sports betting in Louisiana has diverted taxable revenue away from Louisiana and its gaming establishments. Instead, bettors from Louisiana have had to go to neighboring states in order to place their sports bets legally. 

One state that benefited from the situation was Mississippi. Located just to the east of Louisiana, Mississippi saw a large betting handle on college football that was attributed to the championship season that the LSU Tigers put together. In fact, January of 2020 saw the state of Mississippi boast an increase of nearly $10 million in football betting handle compared to January of the year before.

While no specific data is available to shed light on how much of that money was bet on LSU alone, it isn’t difficult to draw a line connecting the increase to the performance of the Tigers. Even with the hometown New Orleans Saints playing in one less postseason game in January of 2020 when compared to the year before, the growing appetite for football betting in Louisiana seems to be apparent.

Awaiting word on mobile betting

While Louisiana sports bettors will continue to hope that the most recent wave of legalization efforts are successful, they are also left hoping that mobile sports betting is in the plans for the state in the future. Senator Peacock did not mention mobile sports wagering when he discussed the potential availability of sports betting at physical locations.

Given how the betting odds for sporting events can change on a regular basis, mobile sports betting may be more important to bettors than mobile casino gaming or other forms of mobile wagering. With the potential for bettors to miss out on the best possible odds while traveling to a physical location, the stakes are high for bettors in Louisiana regarding mobile sports betting as well as the legalization of the practice in each parish in general.

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