Louisiana SportsBook and Casino

Louisiana Senate Bill 322 Would Regulate iGaming Pending Voter Referendum

Republican State Senator Danny Martiny (Jefferson Parish) introduced Louisiana Senate Bill 322 Friday, which would formally regulate internet gambling in the Pelican State.

The proposed legislation is a work in progress, but could appear on parish-wide ballots as soon as this November, according to a March 5th article by Steve Ruddock for Online Poker Report.

The soonest Louisianans would be able to play online poker would be nearly two years away,” Ruddock wrote. “It seems like a long time. But a referendum wouldn’t take place until November of this year. That makes 2020 — just over a year after the vote — a viable timeline for the launch of online gambling.”

Louisiana Gambling Expansion Requires Regional Voter Referendums

With a total of 64 parish jurisdictions (commonly referred to as “counties” in most US states), Louisiana Senate Bill 322 would pave the way for a piecemeal regulatory environment for online poker, house-edge table games and slots.

The reason for this is explained under Article XII, Section 6(C) of the Louisiana State Constitution. This seemingly prohibits LA from authorizing more real money gambling options unless parishes approve such measures on an individual basis.

Assuming some jurisdictions in LA would ultimately approve or disapprove of the measure based on regional voter opinions, Louisiana Senate Bill 322 could result in an unprecedented US iGaming legalization circumstance in which LA residents and tourists would be granted (or refused) online gambling services upon crossing parish lines within the same state.

This differs significantly from proposed Michigan regulated iGaming efforts that would bypass such voter referendum clauses by stipulating that all servers and related equipment must be physically housed within existing casino properties. It should be noted that even if such efforts in Michigan prove successful, there could still be constitutional challenges on the horizon for the Wolverine State.

Separate Legislation to Alter Louisiana Land-Based Casino Provisions?

Louisiana laws concerning land-based and riverboat casinos could be in for a major overhaul, according to a legislative proposal sponsored by Republican State Senator Ronnie Johns (Calcasieu Parish).

Johns’ proposal would remove riverboat gambling restrictions concerning paddlewheels and allow them to conduct business on land (up to 1,200 feet from where a gambling-friendly riverboat is docked).

The recent USNews article cited above states that Louisiana receives roughly $400 million in annual tax revenue from riverboat gambling.

Louisiana Senate Bill 322 Analysis & Conclusions

Although Louisiana Senate Bill 322 is in its very early stages, there are quite a few questions already surrounding it.

  • How would the Louisiana Gaming Control Board efficiently regulate online gambling if some parishes fail to pass a voter referendum and are therefore automatically opted-out?
  • Which geolocation measures would be in place in such an environment?
  • Could legislation including language that requires all iGaming equipment to be located within existing casinos be feasible constitutionally?
  • How would statewide and parish-based iGaming licensing fees be divvied up?

In spite of historic collaboration between US regulatory officials (as well as international iGaming interests) on the topic of internet gambling, Louisiana apparently offers a unique challenge regarding potential legislation.

We will continue to cover Louisiana Senate Bill 322 — along with other US online poker and iGaming legislation — here at Part Time Poker.

Read More Poker/Gaming Analysis From David Huber

Connecticut Sports Betting Legislation Preliminary Study Guide (Mar 2, 2018)
Pennsylvania Satellite Casino Location Analysis (Dec 13, 2017)
Pennsylvania Live Poker Revenue Numbers Are Cause For Concern (Jan 28, 2018)

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