What’s On the Ballot: Sports Betting Vote Could Legalize Sports Gambling in Louisiana parishes

Jacob Lafleur

@jacoblafleur15

Feature Photo: Jack Plauche , 24, wears his lucky Jacksonville Jaguars gear in hopes of victory in their Monday night football game. Plauche plans to use this same superstition if sports betting is legalized in Acadiana this November.

This November, Louisiana voters will have the opportunity to vote on a statutory measure regarding the legality of sports betting in a parish-by-parish vote.

This will be the second time Louisiana voters have the chance to legalize sports betting since 2018. The previous vote focused solely on fantasy sports betting, but this vote will determine the legalization of all sports betting.

The measure, Senate Bill 130 (SB 130), proposed by Senator J. Cameron Henry Jr., would  authorize the licensing and taxation on an increasing market of sports betting on a parish-by-parish basis. It defines sports wagering as, “the business of accepting wagers on any sports event or sports contest by any system or method of wagering,” according to Louisiana state legislation. This bill will become effective January 1 of 2021, depending on how people in each parish vote.

If passed, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board would have, “regulatory authority,” over all aspects of sports wagering. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board regulates gaming and gambling, under its jurisdiction and keeps gaming in the state, “conducted honestly and free from criminal and corruptive elements,” its mission statement reads.

States around the country have passed recent laws allowing sports betting, earning these states millions of dollars in recent years. New Jersey began sports betting in 2018 and reported around $29 million in revenue, according to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research. Other states such as Iowa, Oregon and Colorado followed with their own sports betting legislation all grossing multi-million dollar earnings in 2019, according to UNLV.

Closer to home, Mississippi legalized sports betting in 2018. The Mississippi gaming commission reports around $44 million dollars of revenue was generated in 2019 from sports betting alone, according to UNLV.

Richard Picard, spokesperson for the Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel in St. Mary Parish, said he believes that a portion of the revenue generated in Mississippi from sports betting was from Louisiana gamblers.

“Louisiana is always on the verge of  a budgetary collapse, and especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, the revenue on the taxation of sports betting could be beneficial to the state,” Picard said.

While there will be some advocacy groups that speak out against the bill, Picard said that he thinks that parishes with casinos and their surrounding parishes will vote in favor of the measure.

For sports fans, the legalization of sports betting presents an opportunity for them to interact more with their favorite teams. Jack Plauche, an avid sports fan and long-time fantasy football player said he is particularly excited for the opportunity to bet on sports in the future. Plauche has been playing fantasy for years but has never gotten the chance to bet on the winner of an actual sports event.

“ I would absolutely love it, I would bet on the Jacksonville Jaguars whenever they would play and I’d probably bet on major league baseball during the playoffs,” Plauche said.

Plauche said he has surrounded himself with sports fans like himself growing up in Acadiana. He said he  believes that sports betting could be a great opportunity if legalized, for sports fans to earn money watching their favorite teams.

“I’ve seen guys do it whenever it wasn’t legal and know a lot about it. I bet it would be huge around here.  I doubt I’d win more money but I would bet a lot more,” Plauche said.

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