BATON ROUGE, La. — A bid to help legalize sports betting in Louisiana is steps from final legislative passage, though the wagering still would be a year or more away.
The measure that won easy passage Tuesday from the House criminal justice committee would let voters in each parish determine on the Nov. 3 ballot whether to allow sports betting in that parish. Sen. Cameron Henry's bill moves to the full House for debate.
The Senate already overwhelmingly backed the idea from the Jefferson Parish Republican.
Determining which sports would be allowed, where the wagers could happen and how the activity would be taxed would be settled in a later legislative session.
It would be a long time coming for supports of sports gambling in Louisiana. Previous efforts to legalize sports betting have failed to reach final passage.
"The people who want to bet are betting anyway, we're just not reaping any benefits," said former state Sen. Danny Martiny, who tried to legalize fantasy sports betting this year. "It exists, it's an industry in and of itself, it's just not regulated and we don't tax it."
The legalization of both real and fantasy sports betting was on the table last year; neither passed, however. In contrast, in Mississippi sports betting has been legal for two year.
"I have friends that travel to Florida, Mississippi so they can do sports betting," said Bobby Gatewood ahead of his fantasy draft.
Martiny estimated last year Louisiana would make millions of dollars a year off sports betting, but opponents believe expanding gambling would harm families and worsen addiction problems.