Analysis

Louisiana ballot measure on sports-betting just the start

Getting sports-betting onto the ballot in the upcoming November election will be just the start of a long sports-betting journey in Louisiana and the raising of its Wedge Index rating.

The upcoming election in November will see Louisiana’s sports-betting bill put before the voters in a referendum but the expected boost to the state’s gaming accessibility will take some time to feed through.

Louisiana currently sits at a lowly T36 in the Wedge Index rating of consumer-gaming friendliness with just seven points. 

Adding regulated sports-betting would substantially help its rating. If it were both land-based and mobile, that would add a total of 15 points. If remote registration is a part of the regulations that would provide a further 15 points.

This would raise Louisiana to at least 37 points in total without including the points scored for each brand that might take up a license. As it stands, this would shoot Louisiana up the chart to 9th place.

However, it is by no means certain that online sports-betting will be included in the final legislation which isn’t likely to come into force until 2022.

Consensus measure

The prospective sports-betting legislation was voted through the state Senate in May this year. At the time, the promoter of the bill said that sports betting remained a “difficult issue for a lot of members” and suggested the November ballot was the best way to move forward.

“This way you’ll be able to know [after the November election] exactly what your constituents want you to do,” said Republican state senator Cameron Henry.

While the consensus is that the measure will pass in November, the history of gaming liberalization and regulation in Louisiana suggests that consumers will have to wait quite a while before they can make their first bet.

What exactly will be allowed by the legislation is yet to be decided. The supporters of the bill have said it should benefit the state’s land-based casino gaming interests. As it stands, there are tribal gaming, commercial casinos and racino interests in the state.

Penn National owns five casinos in the state and Boyd Gaming a further two properties while Churchill Downs operates the Fairgrounds Racino facility in New Orleans and a number of off-track betting locations.

The ballot measure is a straight yes and no with little detail over what would follow. The voters are not being asked specifically bout online sports-betting. 

Louisiana previously went to the polls to approve DFS in the state in 2018. That measure passed with 47 parishes out of the 60 in the state approving the measure.

If it passes, the sports-betting measure would then pass on to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board which would design the legislation for sports-betting.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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