Will sports betting become legal in Louisiana?

A fight over where bets could be placed is brewing

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Louisiana lawmakers are getting closer to asking voters if they want to legalize betting on sports?

A state Senate approved bill would allow a parish by parish vote on the legalization of sports betting and is set for a hearing today in the House Appropriations Committee.

If it passes there, the next stop would be the full House of Representatives.

Currently the bill calls for allowing gamblers to place wagers on sports at racetracks and casinos, but video poker interests are hoping to expand that. 

The bill's author, Senator Danny Martiny of Metairie, says that can’t happen because it would expand the places with sports betting dramatically.

"From 20 venues to 2,800 venues," he explained.

He thinks the state’s racetracks, riverboat casinos, and land-based casino in New Orleans is a better way to go, and remains optimistic it could be in place by early next year.

"If the bill passes in its present form, we will be very close to getting it going for the next Super Bowl," Martiny said.

A companion bill to tax the activity proposes a 13 percent tax rate, which Martiny says is about average, and nearly equal to that of Mississippi’s. One percent would be sent to compulsive gambling funds.

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