It’s been a good year for the sports betting industry with new legalization laws passed in Iowa, Tennessee, Indiana and Montana, but one state taking a step backwards is Louisiana.
For the past few months it looked promising that lawmakers would find agreement on a bill that would then be put to referendums in each of the parishes (counties) that have casinos. But that dream appears to have died -for the second year in a row- on Monday.
Last week the Senate passed Bill 153 that would have permitted each of the state’s 20 casinos to accept bets on both college and professional sports.
On Monday morning the bill was debated and brought up for a vote in the House Appropriations Committee and they voted it down 14-6. But it wasn’t just opponents to sports gambling giving it the thumbs down. Plenty of supporters voted against it as well after the Appropriations Committee decided to add a bunch of amendments that many felt would no longer make sports betting profitable.
Wade Duty, the executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, came out with the following statement after the bill was shot down, “with the amendments that have been loaded onto this bill, it is untenable. You now have put enough baggage on the plane it will not get airborne.”
He further explained that it was a death by a thousand cuts scenario. It wasn’t any particular amendment that caused the casino industry and their backers in the committee to withdraw their support. As it is there are very low profit margins for casinos when it comes to sports betting. The real attraction is that it brings in new clients who will spend on the higher margin casino games, food, drinks and services that are also offered on site.
However, the new changes, they felt would have turned the sports betting industry into a money loser for the casinos and that is a reality they couldn’t stomach.
Amongst the new additions that were shot down was that it would allow sports gambling at video poker terminals which would include bars and truck stops. There was also an amendment that would have required official league data from all the major leagues to be part of each bet. That essentially means the leagues would get a cut from every bet. And the 13% tax on revenues would have been the second highest in the nation. For comparison’s sake it is 6% in Nevada and 9% in New Jersey, the two states who have the largest sports betting economies.
There is a slim chance the bill could be revived if the House would agree to reverse course on a vote they held later in the day to bypass the Appropriations Committee and bring it to the floor for a full vote. It failed 48-41 and it could come up for another vote before the spring session comes to an end. But according to some members on the floor, the way the winds are blowing, such an outcome seems unlikely.
Where Louisiana goes from here is anyone’s guess.