FILE - Sports Betting

Patrons visit the sports betting area of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.

(The Center Square) – The Louisiana Legislature has decided how legal sports betting will work in Louisiana and how state government will spend the resulting revenue.

Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted last year to legalize betting on sporting events. The practice remains illegal in the other nine.

Lawmakers were tasked with setting up the rules during this year’s regular session, which ended Thursday. Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign the bills, clearing the way for state residents to begin betting legally as early as this fall.

Under Senate Bill 247, which gained final passage Thursday, anyone younger than age 21 still would be prohibited from placing sports bets. No more than 20 licenses to operate a sports book would be issued, and the state’s 16 casinos and four racetracks would have the first chance to apply. Video poker establishments and fantasy sports operators would be next in line.

License-holders also can provide for betting through mobile apps. Mobile sports betting providers said their technology can prevent bets from being placed in parishes where it isn’t legal.

The Louisiana Lottery Corporation will oversee betting kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Betting on high school or youth sports would remain illegal. Coaches, athletes and referees would be prohibited from betting on their own games.

House Bill 697 calls for a 10% tax on net gaming proceeds from on-site betting and a 15% tax on mobile betting. Edwards already has signed HB 697.

Senate Bill 142 deals with how to divvy up the fees, fines and other revenue associated with sports wagering. As amended Thursday, 25% (up to $20 million) would be dedicated to early childhood education, while up to $500,000 would go to a fund dedicated to behavioral health and up to $500,000 to disability services. Ten percent would go to local governments where bets are placed, 2.5% would go to supplementing horse racing purses and the rest would go to the general fund.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.