Louisiana sports betting to begin during football season

Louisiana News

A man makes a sports bet at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City NJ on Friday March 19, 2021, the first full day of the NCAA March Madness tournament. Last year, it was March sadness as the NCAA college basketball tournament got canceled days before it was supposed to start, due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Sports betting operations in Louisiana are expected to begin sometime in the upcoming football season, after the state’s gambling regulators approved emergency rules to speed the ability for people to wager on games.

The Gaming Control Board, without objection, approved regulations that allow Louisiana’s casinos and four racetracks to file their applications starting Monday for sports betting licenses.

Eventually, the wagering also is expected to expand to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in the 55 parishes where voters agreed to allow the betting sites. But that’s coming later.

News outlets report the gambling board’s initial action Thursday will start a vetting process for temporary licenses at the casinos and racetracks.

Ronnie Johns, a former state senator and new chairman of the gambling board, said he’s hopeful the betting can begin by the middle of football season.

“This has been the No. 1 question asked of me: When is sports betting coming?” Johns told The News-Star. “We are behind our neighbor in Mississippi, but we’re going to try to catch up quickly.”

Voters in 55 of 64 parishes agreed to legalize sports betting on live-action games last fall. Lawmakers set up the framework to regulate and tax sports wagers in their most recent legislative session.

The Advocate reports the head of the casino industry’s trade association thinks that some of the casinos will be able to take bets as soon as mid-September.

Wade Duty, the executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, said many of his members have prepared applications and will file them soon. As they are already licensed, the vetting process will be quicker.

“As far as timeline, I’d expect to see some of the brick and mortars ready by mid-September to take in-person, on-premises (wagers),” he said.

Betting in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol will be handled on about 1,000 kiosks, which will be overseen by the Louisiana Lottery Corp. The lottery is making its own rules for sports betting, separate from the gaming commission.

Those interested in placing bets will have to be 21 or older. No bets can be placed on high school or youth sports events. Athletes, coaches and referees can’t bet on a sports event in which they are involved. People who live in parishes that did not approve sports betting can place wagers if they head to a parish where sports betting was legalized.

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