Dunlap: Epic failure by LA legislature in sports gambling fumble

There's always next year, right?

Seth Dunlap
May 28, 2019 - 8:06 pm

Louisiana was recently ranked as the worst state in the country to live in, the third straight year the state has held this dubious honor.  Today, all residents of the state got another reminder why.

The Louisiana state legislature sunk a bill that would have allowed legalized sports gambling in the state, with the House Committee of Appropriations failing to advance the bill by an overwhelming 14-6 vote against.  Instead of catching up with the rest of the country, where most states are quickly adopting laws to take advantage of last year's Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal law that prohibited most states from authorizing sports gambling.  Instead of following suit, lawmakers spent weeks adding poison pill amendments that eventually doomed the bill to failure.  

Or maybe it wasn't really doomed.  Maybe the House committee just got it wrong.  Frankly, it doesn't matter.  Every single person who lined up against a quick-and-easy passage legalized sports betting in Louisiana is to blame.  The hypocritical religious leaders.  The greedy casinos.  Every lawmaker who looked to attach a handout to this bill.  Republicans.  Democrats. Independents.  It was a torrent of horse manure that rushed over the state capitol.  The stink won't dissipate for at least another year, when lawmakers will again have a chance to pass this common sense legislation. 

Instead of allowing the tens of thousands of sports bettors in this state spend their money in Louisiana, they'll continue to drive to Mississippi, or fly to Vegas or Jersey, or even use shady online sports betting sites.  Tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue will now be lost, just in time for the typical budget-crunch doomsaying that will come from those same lawmakers that voted this down.

People will say it's just politics as usual in Louisiana.  Well, maybe that's the problem.  Politics are usual has driven our state into a never-ending financial crisis that these lawmakers can't seem to find a way out of.  It's inevitable that these same lawmakers will try to slash funding to major programs or raise taxes somewhere as they plead for our support. Apparently allowing men and women to wager a little bit on their favorite teams and favorite sports was too must to ask.

What a joke.  But the joke is on all of us.

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