Louisiana state Sen. Danny Martiny, who has tried and failed in the past to get a sports betting legalisation bill through committee stages in the state legislature, said this week that he is preparing another proposal for his colleagues in the Senate to debate.
Martiny’s hand will have been strengthened by an information hearing of the state Judiciary B Committee this week which heard testimony on the subject.
Among those addressing the committee was Allen Godfrey, the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, who revealed that overall gambling revenue in his state increased year over year “for the first time in a long time” since sports betting became legal there in September
“There is a lot of enthusiasm and new traffic,” Godfrey said as he jokingly urged members of the committee to delay legalising the vertical in Louisiana so that neighbouring Mississippi could continue to prosper without competition.
Martiny and other members of the committee bemoaned the failure of legalisation bills in the past, with Martiny explaining: “We’re trying to figure out how to get up on our knees, and they’re (Mississippi) sprinting,”
Responding to Godfrey’s teasing, the senator said: “My goal was to compete with you and stop you from taking our people.”
The committee heard that the American Gaming Association estimates Louisiana could take in up to $62 million in tax revenue annually if the state added sports betting to its gambling inventory.
Ronnie Jones, executive director of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, said: “I have news for everybody. People are betting on sports today (without it being legal in Louisiana).”
“The industry tends to look at sports betting as another amenity to bring more people into the casinos,” he opined.
That was confirmed by Dan Real, regional general manager for Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans as well as one of the company’s casinos in Mississippi.
“I do see our customers over there (in Mississippi),” Real said. “It’s a very important piece for us to add here in Louisiana. It’s something on everybody’s mind in every state.”
So far, nine US states have legalised sports wagering.
Rep. Norby Chabert said that if Louisiana lawmakers do not address the legalisation of sports betting the state would be left behind in a rapidly changing environment.