Louisiana Sen. Martiny Introduces Sports Betting & Internet Gaming Bills As Louisiana's casino market continues to slide, the state is currently considering the possibility of introducing its biggest gambling expansion since riverboats were legalized in 1991, followed by the opening of the state's sole land-based casino in New Orleans a year after.
The development comes after the Legislature received two bills last week from State Senator Danny Martiny (photo), including Senate Bill 322 which seeks to allow a public referendum to take place on whether internet gaming should be permitted in Louisiana; and Senate Bill 266 which would allow a sports betting industry to be set up should New Jersey win its Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court this summer.
Legislation a Long Process
After Louisiana launched its gambling industry in the early 1990's, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board was created a few years later in 1996, with one of its first actions being to approve the placing of slot machines at state racetracks. In 1999, Louisiana's first land-based casino then opened its doors for business, and today the state is home to some of the biggest casino operators in the world, including Horseshoe, Harrah's, and the Golden Nugget.
These days, gambling is the state's 4th largest contributor of tax revenue, far outstripping other longtime stalwarts such as the oil and gas industries, and in 2017 Louisiana received a combined $710 million from Harrah's casino in New Orleans, and from its 15 floating riverboat casinos, and slots machines based at its four racinos.
Nevertheless, business has begun to slide in recent years, and the revenues of $2.53 billion generated in 2016 were 4% down compared to the previous year, according to information released by the American Gaming Association. This has now led the state to consider a far-ranging gambling expansion program in order to avoid any further slippage or stagnation. Commenting upon the situation, State Senator Danny Martiny, author of the two bills introduced last week, stated:
"People don't like gaming, but they sure like the revenue that comes from it. If we were flush with cash and had a $1 billion surplus, we wouldn't be talking about it."
Also lending his support to the bills is Rep. Major Thibaut, D-New Roads, who has a special interest in seeing an expansions extended to Louisiana's racetracks, explaining that this would provide a much-needed way of raising money for" education, roads and health care."
In addition to the millions of dollars generated by its casino businesses, the industry also provides employment for thousands of people in the state, including 2,400 jobs at Harrah's New Orleans, 13,800 at the state's 15 riverboats, and a massive 10,000 people involved in its video poker industry, according to statistics collected by the Louisiana Video Gaming Association.
Sports Betting and iGambling
While internet gambling and sports wagering are separate topics, there is obviously a very clear connection between the two legislative issues. Highlighting this point, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming has estimated that US citizens spend around $60 billion per annum on unregulated offshore websites, while the figure increases to around $150 billion for the illegal sports betting market.
While the success of Martiny's sports betting bill is dependent on the outcome of New Jersey case in the US Supreme Court, his online gambling bill is currently under consideration by the Committee on Judiciary B. A number of issues will have to be resolved before the bill can be voted upon and moved onto the legislature for further deliberation, though, including what types of games will be permitted, and their subsequent tax rates and revenue allocation.
Meanwhile, Louisiana now joins a number of other states also exploring the potential of authorizing regulated online poker, with other interested states including Michigan, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Illinois.
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