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Louisiana Becomes the Latest State to Introduce Online Gambling Legislation

Louisiana just joined the list of states with an online gambling bill under consideration, courtesy of state senator Daniel Martiny (R-10).

Martiny introduced Senate Bill 322 on March 2, and at the moment, the four-page document merely provides an outline for Louisiana voters to decide the iGaming issue directly. If passed, S-322 would call for a public referendum to be held during the upcoming November election cycle.

A proposition added to the ballot in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes would pose the following question to voters:

“Shall internet gaming be allowed to be conducted within the parish of _____?”

SB-322 is designed to give the state flexibility in implementing online gambling, as individual parishes can approve or reject the proposition through a simple majority vote. In parishes that pass the measure, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) would then partner with local gaming board authorities to develop a regulatory framework for licensing and supervising iGaming operations.

The bill would also establish a system whereby iGaming providers must partner with Louisiana’s licensed riverboat and land-based casinos to obtain an internet gaming license. This would follow the successful model currently utilized in New Jersey, where state-licensed casinos in Atlantic City have been linked with online poker and casino platforms since 2013. Last year alone, New Jersey’s iGaming industry generated nearly $250 million in revenue while sending millions into state coffers via taxes and licensing fees.

SB-322 doesn’t address taxation or licensing fees, but the bill offers a general framework for classifying legal forms of internet gambling:

“Proposed law defines ‘Internet gaming’ as any variation or composite of an authorized game that is offered through the internet, provided that such games, or variations or composites, are found suitable for use by the board and any other game which is determined to be suitable by the board.

The term includes gaming tournaments conducted via the internet in which players compete against one another in one or more games authorized by the board.”

Only players 21 and over who are physically located in a parish which voted in favor of the ballot proposition would be permitted to gamble online. Furthermore, legal iGaming wouldn’t go live in Louisiana until January 1 of 2020 at the earliest.

Martiny – who previously held a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1994 through 2008 – serves Jefferson Parish, which includes sections of the New Orleans metropolitan area. In his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Martiny will be able to influence fellow lawmakers to support SB-322 in exchange for favorable votes on other issues.

SB-322 is the third gambling-related bill taken up by Louisiana legislators in the last week.

State representative Major Thibaut (D-18) introduced House Bill 245 – which would expand the state’s current laws on horserace wagering to include all forms of sports betting – on March 1.

On March 5, state representative Kirk Talbot (R-78) introduced House Bill 484 in an attempt to regulate the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry.