Sports Betting On The 2020 Louisiana Ballot: What You Need To Know

Oct 14, 2020

Here’s the language you’ll see on the ballot:

“Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of _______?”

How would it work?

Voters will decide parish-by-parish if they would like to legalize sports betting. But even if a majority of voters in your parish vote to legalize sports betting, it will not happen right away. State lawmakers and the Gaming Control Board still have to set up the regulatory framework and tax structure for any sports betting in the state.

Lawmakers will have to decide whether to allow betting on college games, or just professional contests, and determine how and where people can place bets. Previous efforts to legalize sports betting would have limited the practice to designated areas within casinos. In other states, people can place bets online. Lawmakers, gaming lobbyists and religious organizations all have strong opinions about these issues, and there is no guarantee that the legislature sorts everything out when they meet for the 2021 Regular Session this spring.

This vote-first-regulate-later approach was the same one used back in 2018 to legalize daily fantasy sports in 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes. It took lawmakers longer than expected to set up the regulatory framework and tax structure for daily fantasy sports but they finally got it done this summer.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

If you have watched football this fall, you have probably seen ads from Louisiana Wins, a political action committee bankrolled by big casinos, urging you to vote for sports betting.

They, and many state lawmakers, see sports betting as a way to quickly increase state revenue. The gambling industry estimates that the state could collect $330 million in tax revenues each year — that’s money that could be funneled into schools, early childhood education, and the state’s aging infrastructure. They argue that Louisianans are either crossing state lines to place bets in Mississippi or Arkansas, and the state might as well recoup some of that tax revenue.

The state’s land-based, riverboat and racetrack casinos all support the effort to legalize sports betting, especially if it is only allowed under their roofs. They see it as a way to draw in a younger crowd of potential gamblers.

For the same reasons, evangelical groups are opposed. They see sports betting as a gateway to gambling addiction.

To learn more about what's on your 2020 ballot, check out our ballot guide.

Stay in touch and up to date

It's a wild time and there's a lot to keep up with. Sign up for our New Orleans Public Radio newsletter and we'll send you a news roundup at the end of each week.

Or, if you're in Baton Rouge, sign up for WRKF's weekly newsletter.