Mobile Sports Betting Closer to Approval in Louisiana in Time for Football Season

A bill allowing mobile sports betting breezed through the Louisiana Senate on Wednesday. This sets the stage for possible sports betting by football season this fall, according to reports.

Stephen Barnes, left, and Page Cortez
Stephen Barnes, left, and Page Cortez
Economist Stephen Barnes, left, and Senate President Page Cortez of Lafayette confer during this year’s Louisiana legislative session. Cortez has sponsored a bill to allow mobile sports betting. (Image: Associated Press)

Senate Bill 247 allows bettors to use their smartphones in placing wagers on live sporting events such as football, basketball, and baseball. It passed on a 31-6 vote and now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill’s current language also would allow sports betting inside casinos and at kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve liquor, according to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge.

If approved in the House and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), the measure would take effect July 1. The National Football League preseason begins with an Aug. 5 game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. The regular season opens with a Thursday night game on Sept. 9 between the Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Louisiana is considered a hotbed for sports enthusiasts. New Orleans is home to the NFL’ Saints and NBA’s Pelicans. Louisiana State University, an annual college football powerhouse competing in the Southeastern Conference, plays home games on the campus in Baton Rouge. The Tigers begin their season Sept. 4 in Pasadena, Calif., against the UCLA Bruins.

Geofencing Required

In the November election, voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved sports betting within their parish. The ballot measure did not specify whether sports betting could occur on smartphones.

SB247, sponsored by Senate President Page Cortez (R), resolves that issue. The bill would mandate that mobile apps be equipped with geofencing capabilities to ensure the bet is coming from a parish that approved sports wagers. The apps also would indicate who is placing the bet in an effort to block underage gambling.

Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. Two other riverboats are licensed, but one has closed permanently and the other was temporarily knocked out of service last year in a hurricane.

Under SB247, a 10 percent tax would be levied on bets placed at kiosks in restaurants and bars. Cellphone bets would be taxed at 15 percent. This tax would be on the amount left over after winning bettors have been paid, the newspaper reported.

The Senate measure is part of a sport-betting package that includes House Bill 697. That bill, which establishes taxes and fees, has been approved in the House and is due soon for a vote in the Senate.

The two-month Louisiana legislative session began on April 12 at the Capitol in Baton Rouge and ends on June 10 at 6 pm.

Nearby States Lack Mobile Wagering

Legal mobile sports betting does not occur in any state bordering Louisiana. 

In Arkansas and Mississippi, wagering on live contests is offered at sportsbooks inside casinos. Mississippi has 26 licensed casinos. Twelve of these are on the Gulf Coast. In Arkansas, three commercial casinos are in operation. 

Arkansas and Mississippi permit sports betting on smartphones, but only if the wager is placed on casino property, officials in both states told Casino.org. However, no casino in either state offers that smartphone service.

Texas does not allow sports betting and does not have licensed commercial casinos.

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