St. Charles Parish voters overwhelmingly supported a proposition on the Nov. 3 ballot that will now allow for legal sports wagering on collegiate and professional sports.
The proposition, in which 72.4% of registered parish voters participated in, had a 70% approval rate. Voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes approved the measure, which was voted for on a parish-by-parish basis.
Sen. Gary Smith Jr. of Norco said the local legalization of sports betting is a way to keep people who are interested in participating in betting on sports in the parish instead of having to either go somewhere else or use an illegal source.
“Sports betting is currently a multi-billion dollar industry, and our hope is that legalization of this type of gaming is a way to put a dent in that illegal industry and in turn regulate the industry while capturing some of the revenues,” he said. “Currently there are no protections for our citizens or production of tax dollars for the parish and state when someone bets illegally.”
Smith said legalization of sports betting will also provide a safe and accountable way for our citizens to participate in this activity.
“There is also the possibility for new or increased local businesses which could further increase revenues to the parish,” Smith said, adding he would like to see revenues help educational institutions and individuals with disabilities. “We need more funding in both of these areas.”
Spectrum Gaming Group reported that Louisiana could expect between $237 million and $332 million in annual operator revenue from sports betting.
Many officials said wagers may not begin until 2022 because of all of the details that will have to be ironed out by the Louisiana Legislature, including how the wagering activity will be taxed and whether online and mobile wagers will be allowed.
In May, when the bill was gaining momentum in the Senate, Smith called the gambling industry “our business partners” and said it was time for Louisiana to be on even footing with other states that have gambling and gaming, most of which allow sports betting – like Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Ryan Berni of Louisiana Wins, a 501c4 created to educate voters on the importance of legalizing and taxing sports wagering, said the ballot measure will help fund priorities in Louisiana.
“The people of Louisiana have spoken … Louisiana was missing out on tax revenue from not having legal sports wagering, and now we will be able to raise revenue to support our state’s many needs,” Berni said. “We look forward to working with the Louisiana Legislature as they develop a framework for sports wagering in the 2021 legislative session so that we can deliver on the mandate from voters and quickly bring that tax revenue home to Louisiana.”
In 2018, Louisiana voters in dozens of parishes approved fantasy sports contests. The Louisiana Legislature passed rules and tax rates for fantasy sports earlier this year, and the final rules are currently under review of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.