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Will Louisiana go for sports betting?

Sports betting could net state millions in revenue

April 23, 2019 - 7:31 am

Connor Ferrill reporting...

A Senate Judiciary Committee takes up a proposal to allow voters to legalize sports betting at casinos and race tracks in their parishes today.

Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills opposes the legislation, and says any revenue generated would be offset by the social damage caused by increased gambling.

“If we were to take a good hard look at what we pay in terms in cost through the department of social services, the department of children and family services and any number of other DHH I think you would find that it is largely a wash.”

Mills says a UL study indicated there were nearly 200,000 problem gamblers in the state.

But bill sponsor, Metairie Senator Danny Martiny, says there’s already an active sports betting black market, and while the law may increase the overall amount of gaming in the state…

“If we do nothing we get no benefit and we get all the ill of the illegal market.”

Martiny is pushing to direct any revenue generated directly from sports betting activities into early childhood education. The Senator says it’s a worthy cause, and will help the legislation pass, but Mills says the two causes should not be tied together.

“It is not unusual to marry a virtue like childhood education to a vice like gambling in order to pass your vice. I think it is a very bad idea. If we would like to see it move forward it ought to be done on it’s own merit.”

The Metairie Republican says estimates show sports betting itself will not generate a substantial amount of tax revenue, and that the activity could be worth about 20-50 million dollars a year. Martiny warned that not passing the legislation will result in depressed revenues for Louisiana casinos who will lose business to other states, and drive away new potential gaming investors.

“If it doesn’t pass this year I think we are sending a message to the gaming industry that we are willing to lag behind. It will probably make a lot of money for lobbyists over the next couple years as they try to do it again.”

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