Louisiana lawmakers plan to revisit sports gambling legalization

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Louisiana lawmakers are once again mulling over whether or not to roll the dice on sports gambling in the state. This comes after a failed attempt last session.

During a recent hearing, Louisiana lawmakers heard from the Mississippi Gaming Gaming Commission executive director Allen Godfrey. Mississippi became one of the first states to legalize sports gaming back in August. Godfrey said most of the casinos in the state have added a sports gambling component, helping the venues win big.

“What we have seen is we have new traffic. Our August and September revenue numbers for this year were 23 million more than last year. The only thing I can tell you is, we haven’t seen that type of increase in a long time,” Godfrey said.

Some Louisiana lawmakers expressed worry that this step from Mississippi is drawing Louisiana customers across the state line, hurting Louisiana casinos.

Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, drafted the legislation to legalize last session. He told Godfrey his intent was to keep Louisiana casinos competitive.

“My goal was to compete with you to keep our people from going over there,” Martiny told Godfrey.

Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones said the underground world of sports betting already exists but Louisiana is making no money on it.

“I don’t know if you people want to push to authorize sports book next year, but people are doing it today,” Jones said to legislators during the hearing.

Jones also said sports gaming isn’t a cash cow. While there is a lot of money spent on sports bets, the profit margin is only about 5 percent. 

“The industry tends to look at sports book as another amenity. It’s something that brings people into properties for example where they buy cocktails, have dinner, sit in a bar, watch a game and bet on it,” Jones said.

Last session, sports gaming legalization was met with a deal of pushback. Speaking to the odds of legalization in Louisiana, Jones said he wouldn’t bet on it happening anytime soon. 

Louisiana voters will decide parish by parish whether or not to allow bets on fantasy sports this November election. Jones said the result of those votes could be an indicator of how Louisiana residents would feel about sports gaming.

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