Speculation in recent weeks that the state of Louisiana is considering a move into intrastate legalised online gambling has been given a boost by no less a personage than the chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Jones.
Speaking to The Times-Picayune this week, Jones said: “I suspect a bill will likely be introduced, but I can’t confirm [this].”
Louisiana presently bans internet gambling altogether under the terms of a law passed in 1997, but in March last year a resolution was filed asking the Legislature to task state officials with carrying out a study of the legislative requirements should the state decide to enter the world of internet gambling.
The results of that study were presented to the Legislature this week, with Louisiana State Police Gaming Section spokesman Major Mike Noel, Cointrol Board chairman Jones and Assistant Attorney General Leonce Gautreaux briefing lawmakers on the challenges and requirements attached to legalising online gambling, with particular emphasis on the December 2011 Department of Justice policy decision that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting.
Jones pointed out that, legislatively prohibited or not, the fact is that Louisiana residents continue to bet via the internet, running the risk of being prejudiced and cheated by unscrupulous and unregulated operators, who contribute nothing to state tax coffers.
Consumer protection was an important consideration, and one that can best be achieved through a legalised, regulated and taxed intrastate system, he suggested.
The task force study also found:
* Louisiana citizens must have trust and confidence that companies and individuals involved in internet gaming have been vetted and are suitable to handle their transactions.
* There should be a state capability to detect violations of law, regulations and criminal activity.
* Specialised regulatory compliance that can ensure the systems and programs operate in a consistent and fair manner are essential.
* Safeguards to adequately prevent underage and problem gamblers are critical.
* The technological nature of online gambling requires the services of specialised IT technicians, and security and auditing experts.
Jones emphasised that the state Gaming Control Board was neither for nor against the legalisation of online gambling:
“The gaming board has no position on legalizing internet gaming. We’re neither for it or against it. Only the legislature can change the law,” he said.