May 11, 2021

Volume XI, Number 131


May 10, 2021

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Sports Wagering is on the Ballot in Louisiana: Here’s What We Know

Despite a significant effort to legalize sports wagering in Louisiana during the 2019 Legislative Session, sports wagering remains illegal in the Bayou State. Many expect that to change soon.

In June 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law Senate Bill 130, which will give voters in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes the ability to approve sports wagering on a parish-by-parish basis. Upon being signed by the governor, Senate Bill 130 became Act No. 215, and as a result, sports wagering will be on the ballot on November 3. Unlike past years in which sports wagering failed to make it to the governor’s desk, let alone the ballot box, it will soon be up to the eligible voters in Louisiana to decide whether to legalize sports wagering in their respective parishes. Many observers expect that the parish-specific focus of Act No. 215 will result in the legalization of sports wagering in Louisiana’s most populous parishes, where sports wagering has generally been viewed favorably.

Even if sports wagering is soon legalized in one or more parishes, it will be some time before sports wagering can actually take place in Louisiana. Indeed, the Louisiana Legislature and the Louisiana Gaming Control Board would first need to implement licensing and tax-related rules before sports wagering can be offered. For example, the Legislature would need to enact a tax structure for sports wagering, which likely would not occur until the 2021 Regular Session at the earliest because tax-related bills can only be considered in odd-numbered years, unless brought before the Legislature during a special session. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board would also need to prescribe the methods and procedures for calculating gross sports wagering revenues, the daily counting and recording of cash and cash equivalents received from sports wagering, and the amount of cash reserves to be maintained by facilities offering sports wagering to their patrons. Aside from tax-related issues, the Board would also need to prescribe application forms to be completed by persons or entities interested in offering sports wagering to the public as well as additional rules and regulations governing the conduct of sports wagering in Louisiana. Indeed, should the voters in a particular parish approve of sports wagering, the Board would then be tasked with adopting all the rules necessary to implement, administer, and regulate sports wagering, including those setting forth the standards and procedures to govern sports wagering and those who offer it.

Proponents of Act No. 215 maintain that sports wagering has the potential to be a significant revenue generator for the state of Louisiana. But determining how much revenue could result from sports wagering is a difficult proposition. Should sports wagering pass in one or more Louisiana parishes on November 3, a major factor in the revenue-generation equation is whether the Legislature and Board will enact regulations that allow sports wagering to take place remotely over the internet via electronic devices. The alternative, which is disfavored by many proponents of Act No. 215, is to follow Mississippi’s approach and allow sports wagering only in brick-and-mortar casinos. Several commentators have predicted that allowing sports wagering to take place remotely—and not exclusively in Louisiana’s land-based and riverboat casinos—could result in hundreds of millions in additional tax revenue for the state. Only time will tell whether sports wagering soon becomes legal in Louisiana and, if so, whether the Louisiana Legislature and the Gaming Control Board decide to authorize sports wagering outside of brick-and-mortar casinos.

© 2021 Jones Walker LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 294



About this Author

J. Kelly Duncan, Jones Walker Law Firm, Gaming Attorney

Kelly Duncan is a partner in the firm's Admiralty & Maritime Practice Group and a past member of the firm's Board of Directors (2006-2014). He is head of the firm's Gaming practice.

Mr. Duncan has more than 35 years of experience handling admiralty, maritime, and international and customs law matters. His maritime practice includes both domestic and international matters relating to marine acquisitions, financings, vessel construction, regulatory issues, maritime lien enforcement and foreclosures, contracts of affreightment, terminal tariffs...

Thomas Shepherd, Gaming Attorney, IAGA President, 2014, Jones Walker Law FIrm

Tommy Shepherd is a partner in the firm’s Business and Commercial Transactions Practice Group. As an accomplished gaming attorney, he served as President of the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA) in 2014.

Tommy represents major casino companies, Native American tribes, manufacturers, suppliers, and financial institutions regarding all matters relating to the development, financing, licensing and operation of gaming and resort facilities. His extensive experience in such matters includes public-private leases, financings, land use approvals, statutory and regulatory...

Christopher Ulfers, Jones Walker Law Firm, Admiralty and Maritime Attorney

Christopher Ulfers is an associate in the firm's Admiralty & Maritime Practice Group and practices from the New Orleans office. Prior to joining Jones Walker, Mr. Ulfers externed for Chief Judge Brian A. Jackson of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana and served as a judicial law clerk for Judge Susie Morgan of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Mr. Ulfers is a 2015 graduate of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University, where he received his juris doctor...