The timeline for the launch of legal sports betting in Louisiana has been unique because it has been massively affected by Hurricane Ida. Of course, sports in Louisiana, in general, are unusual in that sense – the Saints had games affected by hurricanes multiple times in the past, including earlier this season when their game against the Packers was relocated to Jacksonville. Hurricane Ida formed on August 26 and dissipated on September 4, but the communities it affected continue to be damaged in the aftermath. Ida is the sixth-costliest tropical cyclone on record, having caused $50.1 billion of damages.
Louisiana Sports Betting History
Louisiana first approved sports betting on November 4, 2020, with a vote that saw 55 of 64 parishes (districts) approve sports betting inside their borders. In May 2021, HB697 passed in both the Louisiana House and Senate as legislation that approved sports betting with an in-person tax rate of 10% and an online tax rate of 18%. The Senate also passed SB247, which called for 20 separate sports betting licenses in the state. SB142 was also introduced to clarify the distribution of revenue within the state. Governor John Bel Edwards signed the trio of sports bills into law on June 22, 2021. On August 19, 2021, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board passed emergency sports betting rules to begin the licensing process while permanent rules and regulations were finalized.
Hurricane Ida’s Impact on Sports Betting
In addition to the glaring detrimental effects of a hurricane that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards called “one of the strongest storms to make landfall here in recent times,” Ida also significantly delayed the launch of the legal sports betting market. The first authorizations of temporary licenses were expected in mid-September, but the effects of Hurricane Ida have pushed the timeline back to hopefully the beginning of October.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board is charged with regulating gaming, and it relies on the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division to enforce its laws. Troopers from that division and several others were reassigned to respond to hurricane-affected areas and are just now getting back to their regular duties. Ronnie Johns, the Chairman of the Control Board, said, “we lost about seven to ten days, but everything is back on track now.”
Louisiana’s Next Steps
There are currently several applications in the queue in Louisiana for sports betting licenses, although not all applications are in yet. The state’s “Big 20” casinos and racetracks are expected to get the initial authorization for permits as they have already met the requirements for suitability as well as the necessary background checks. Last week, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board confirmed that eight casinos had applied to offer sports betting out of the “Big 20” casinos that were eligible to do so.
Retail sportsbooks are expected to begin operating in the state’s casinos sometime during October, while mobile betting could take longer to launch. Johns described how mobile takes longer because of the need for outside vendors who have not been licensed yet and still need to go through the “suitability process and background checks” with Louisiana police. Johns mentioned a hopeful timeline of 60 days for that process. Louisiana also hopes to add kiosks to bars and restaurants, allowing patrons to place bets, although that will likely not happen until early 2022.