The Louisiana state Senate panel has approved a sports betting bill ( Senate Bill 153) which was introduced by Senator Danny Martiny R-Metairie. The senators voted 3-1 vote in favor of the bill. The new bill calls for legalizing sports betting in the state including betting on both college level games and professional tournaments.
Earlier this month it was made clear that Louisiana senators will discuss a sports betting bill as the legislative session begins. The bill cleared the first step today. According to Senator Martiny, the state casinos and horse race tracks have been facing stiff competition from gambling expansion in neighboring states of Arkansas and Mississippi.
From the 1st of this month gambling operations started at two race tracks in Arkansas and Mississippi had already legalized sports betting following the Supreme Court’s order last year.
Senator Martiny who introduced the bill said that they have to be at par with them, but they are far behind. The Senator said that it is crucial that the state generates tax revenues and capitalizes on the opportunities.
Talking about the legalization itself, Martiny said: “The tax revenue generated from legalized sports betting would be spent on providing funds to early childhood education programs along with setting up the adequate infrastructure and taking measures to check problem gambling.”
While the senator did not appropriate as to what exact amount of tax revenue is expected from the move, he said that the state could generate between $40 million to $60 million annually.
“Sports betting is not the solution to all our fiscal problems, but I know if we don’t do it, we will lose money. If nothing else it stops some of the bleedings from people going to Mississippi and Arkansas,” he added.
There has also been strong opposition to any gambling expansion in the state. Rev. David Cranford of First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula has warned that any gambling expansion can “cost lives.”
Other opposing legalization of sports betting said that compulsive gambling is already a problem in the state and any further gambling expansion will only make it worse.