Louisiana approves land-based casinos, drops the hammer on sports betting

A bill approving land-based casinos in Louisiana passed through the state’s House last week by a vote of 54-41.  The bill was initially submitted to the Senate by Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns and will now go before the governor for his approval.  While the move sparks an initiative to grow the gambling industry in the state, sports gambling is still taboo.

The bill, SB316, redefines the casino industry in the Pelican State by allowing riverboat casinos, once the only form of casino allowed, to be joined by land-based gambling operations.  It also removes the cap on casino floor space, capped now at 30,000 square feet.  In exchange, casinos will have a limit of 2,365 gambling positions and all gambling activities are to take place within 1,200 feet of the casino’s licensed berth.

A statute that required all casinos to have an operational paddle wheel is also going to be removed, as will be the physical paddle wheels.  Once a prerequisite, the paddle wheel is nothing more than a symbol since all floating casinos have been permanently docked. 

A bill that had been introduced by Senator Danny Martiny to legalize sports betting was rejected by the Senate Finance Committee toward the beginning of May.  The move puts Louisiana at a serious disadvantage in the space, converting the state into "the laughing stock of the country," according to Martiny.  He stated, "Even Mississippi’s way ahead on this.  So, in our quest to be Number 50 in everything, here’s another one.  We can’t fund our necessary services in this state, but we’re making sure gaming doesn’t expand."  

Martiny, who calls the situation a joke, plans to reintroduce the bill in the next legislative season.  "Anybody who thinks that killing my bill is going to stop sports betting, you can go right now on your phone or on your computer and place a bet. We’re just not going to get any of the money from it,” he said.  

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