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Mobile Bill clears first hurdle at Louisiana Capitol

Publication date: May 11, 2021, 04: 09 hrs.

Last update: May 11, 2021, 04: 27 hrs.

Larry Henry

A bill to allow mobile sports betting in Louisiana has been approved by the state House of Representatives and now goes to the Senate for consideration . Senate President Page Cortez (R) has already said he supports mobile betting on live sporting events.

Rep. John Stefanski
From left, Senator Page Cortez, Representative John Stefanski and Representative Clay Schexnayder confer at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. This year's legislative session ends June 13 . (Photo: Associated Press )

House Bill 697 filed by Representative Jan Stefanski (R) would allow bookmakers in the state to place bets on mobile devices such as smartphones.

The measure passed in the House Monday on a 78 to 24 vote, according to a site that tracks Louisiana state legislative bills. Stefanski represents the city of Crowley in south Louisiana.

The people have spoken, "- said Stefanski after Monday's vote.

Cortez, who represents Lafayette, said sports betting will only generate "significant revenue" if it is allowed on mobile devices. He estimates that mobile sports betting could generate $ $10 million to $20 million in tax revenue each year.

In addition to the sports betting permit, HB 697 sets a 10 percent tax rate on sports bets placed in person at casinos, according to Baton Rouge Business Report . The mobile tax rate would be 18 percent.

Under Stefanski's bill, betting kiosks would be allowed in bars and other places that have legal video poker terminals.

Many truck stops and bars across the state are equipped with video poker machines. According to a business report owners of these establishments have expressed concern that sports betting will turn into their video poker business. .

Border states lack mobile plants

In the state of Mississippi, which borders Louisiana to the east, mobile betting is allowed if the person placing the bet is on casino property. However, none of Mississippi's 26 commercial casinos offer such a service , Allen Godfrey, a spokesman for the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said .

In Arkansas, legal sports betting takes place only at ticket counters or kiosks in the state's three casinos. Arkansas borders Louisiana to the north.

Texas, a border state to the west, does not allow legal sports betting.

Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans and four racinos. Racinas are horse tracks with table games and slot machines.

Two other riverboat casinos are licensed in the state. However, one riverboat in the Shreveport-Bossier City area has closed permanently. Another in Lake Charles was damaged during last year's hurricane season and is temporarily closed. Boat casinos in Louisiana can now operate on land.

Deadline in June

In November, voters in 55 of Louisiana's 64 Parishes supported a vote to allow sports betting within their parish boundaries.

The vote was overwhelming in parishes with large cities, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The measure did not specify whether sports betting could be conducted on mobile devices.

The Louisiana legislative session ends June 10 at 6 p.m. at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. State officials said that with tax and regulatory issues to be resolved, sports betting likely won't operate in Louisiana until 2022.

The state is considered a hotbed of sports enthusiasts. New Orleans is home to two professional teams, the NFL's Saints and the NBA's Pelicans. The state also has an active collegiate fan base, especially for football.

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