The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a bill to set tax rates for in-person and online sports betting, the first of three bills that need to be approved before sports betting can be legalized in the state. HB 697 will now be sent to the Senate for a potential final approval before it can be signed into law by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.

Sponsored by Representative John M. Stefanski’s (R-42), HB 697 specifically set forth the tax rate for Louisiana online sports betting and now paves the way for Senate approval of sports betting. HB 697 passed with more than a two-thirds majority, 77 to 24, and sets the in-person sports betting tax rate at 10% and the online sports betting tax rate at 15%. Stefanski’s bill originally called for an 18% tax rate for online sports betting before it was reduced to 15%.

Louisiana sports betting bill allows for 41 potential mobile skins

Senate President Page Cortez (R-23) must also seek approval for his bill, SB 202, which will set forth the legal definitions, requirements and regulations for the state’s sports betting system. A third bill, SB 142, sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward (R-17), calls for the license fees to be deposited into the state’s general fund.

All three bills must be approved before the final day of Louisiana’s legislative session on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Stefanski’s tax bill coincides with Page’s Senate proposal to allow for 20 sports betting licenses, one each for the the state’s 15 riverboat casinos, four racinos and one land-based casino. Each license will also include two mobile licenses, which could mean a potential of 41 “skins” for Louisiana online sports betting. The one additional skin would be allotted to the Louisiana Lottery Corporation, according to Stefanski.

Gaming facilities would pay an initial application fee of $250,000 and then a $500,000 franchise fee that would cover the facilities for five years. Interested parties applying for a sports betting license would also be required to have a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, he said.

Louisiana sports betting “kiosks” will be allowed in certain establishments

Facilities with Class A liquor licenses applying for a sports betting kiosk would only be required to pay an initial application fee of $1,000 and a permit fee of $100 for one year.

Under the bill, facilities with Class-A onsite consumption liquor licenses can receive a mobile wagering device, called a kiosk, to allow patrons to participate in online sports betting while in their facility. This would be run under the purveyance of the Louisiana Lottery Corporation and revenue would be taxed at 10%, he said.

“We wanted these kiosks, because there is a gamer who would say, ‘I don’t want to download an app. I don’t want to link my credit card to an account.’ But if I’m sitting in a bar, and there’s a machine, I’d like to place a bet on the Tigers. Place a bet on UL.I think there’s an avenue for that, and this is why it was so important to include a retail outlet,” Stefanski said.

Sports betting revenue taken in from the Louisiana Lottery Corporation would support K-12 education, as well as see the creation of a separate sub-fund to support developmentally disabled students in the state, Stefanski said.

Certain parishes prohibit sports betting

55 of 64 Louisiana parishes voted in favor of legalized sports betting in the state during the 2020 general election. By law, the parishes that rejected sports betting will be prohibited from participating in any form of sports betting within their own parish boundary. Stefanski noted no restaurants or bars in these parishes would be permitted to apply for sports betting kiosks through the lottery.

Residents in parishes who rejected the measures would be “geofenced out” of participating in Louisiana online sports betting, he noted.

However, Stefanski noted that certain restaurants in dry parishes that approved sports betting would be eligible to apply for sports betting kiosks.