Legislation needed to launch Louisiana sports betting is moving along.
The Louisiana House passed Rep. John Stefanski‘s HB 697, 77-24, on Monday. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Senate President Patrick Cortez is waiting on it to begin to push his regulatory bill, SB 202.
HB 697 sets the tax and fee structure for sports betting in Louisiana. The bill also establishes an avenue for bars and restaurants to offer sports betting through the Louisiana Lottery.
In November 2020, 55 of the state’s 64 parishes voted to legalize LA sports betting, which now requires the state legislature to set the ground rules.
“The people spoke and looking at us why can’t I play right now,” Stefanski said. “We have to tax it. We have to regulate it.”
Louisiana sports betting tax structure
Louisiana law required the tax and fee bill to start in the House. That is why Stefanski wrote HB 697, which also has 13 co-authors.
As passed, the bill levies a 10% tax on in-person retail bets and 18% on mobile bets. Stefanski previously said mobile is the revenue-generating piece of sports betting in LA.
He believes sports betting revenue for the state could reach $20 million annually.
Louisiana Lottery gets a piece
During the floor debate Monday, Rep. Mandie Landry asked how the bill would help bars and restaurants recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stefanski explained this is why he incorporated a component that would allow the lottery to partner with a sportsbook operator for mobile operation, as well as provide kiosks in retail establishments.
“That’s why it was important to find some element of retail. We wanted these kiosks,” Stefanski said. “There is a gamer who would say they don’t want to download an app or link a credit card, but if they’re sitting at the bar, they’d like to place a bet on [LSU.] There’s an avenue for that. … I see it as a benefit to the retail.”
The bill mandates the lottery partner with an operator to handle the bets, so Stefanski believe there is no risk of the lottery loses money. Similar to tax structure, any changes to the state lottery require a two-thirds vote, which is why it is incorporated in the House bill.
Other representative thoughts on sports betting
Rep. Raymond Crews questioned if the state is better off with casino gaming than before and how sports betting changes that.
“It depends on the definition you’re looking at,” Stefanski said. “If you’re looking purely at other things and not the money it’s providing the state, you can make one argument.”
Rep. Ryan Bourriaque highlighted the potential economic impact from investments made by casinos upgrading their offerings.
Sports betting tax bill clears one hurdle
The tax piece was the component that prevented daily fantasy sports on the ground for two years.
Many of the state’s parishes voted to legalize DFS in 2018, but operators can just now apply for licenses.
Stefanski also led the charge on the DFS tax bill that ultimately passed.
“With fantasy sports, one of our issues was not a lot of people understood what it was,” he recently told LSR. “People understand sports betting. It passed pretty significantly in 55 of 64 parishes. People of Louisiana want it, so we need to make sure it happens.”
Louisiana Senate awaits
Cortez will now attempt to usher HB 697, his bill and an appropriations bill, SB 142, through the Senate.
He held his bill in the Senate Judiciary B Committee last week to wait for the House bill. It is scheduled for a hearing today.
His bill lays out regulation of sports betting in Louisiana, including 20 sports betting licenses. Each of the licenses can have up to two mobile licenses. With the lottery license, there could be up to 41 skins in the state.