A ballot measure that would allow betting on football games and other sports won lopsided approval Tuesday night across south Louisiana, including in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette.
Other areas that lined up behind the push included St. Tammany, Jefferson, Ascension, Livingston, St. Bernard, West Baton Rouge, Plaquemines, St. Charles and Terrebonne parishes.
The proposal passed by margins of 68% in East Baton Rouge, 67% in Ascension, 60% in Livingston, 76% in Orleans, 67% in St. Tammany, 76% in Jefferson and 77% in St. Bernard parishes.
It was falling short in only five or 10 parishes statewide, backers said.
The plan was on the ballot in all 64 parishes, and those whose voters said yes will eventually be able to make bets on games.
However, legislation that spells out details of the new industry is needed before any wagering begins, likely in 2022.
For the second time in two years, voters in all 64 parishes will decide individually whether to authorize a new form of sports betting.
Backers said the change will allow the state to keep money now going to Mississippi, which already allows the betting in casinos.
“There are still a lot of votes to be counted, but voters are sending a resounding message on sports wagering,” Richard Carbo, a consultant for the group behind the effort, Louisiana Wins, said in a statement just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“This proposition is on track to outperform the 2018 ballot initiative to include more parishes and a higher percentage of the vote statewide,” Carbo said.
“Very soon, parishes across the state will see the benefits of sports wagering, and we can begin to invest in priorities like infrastructure and education.”
The Louisiana Family Forum, which says it promotes traditional family values, said the campaign was bankrolled by out-of-state operators and that sports betting drains resources from state residents. The group also said the practice preys on minors and gambling addicts and that the proposal failed to spell out how parishes that rejected the plan will be shielded.
“Sadly, the Pied Piper orchestrates another alluring melody; for too many, the promised enticements result in unfortunate outcomes,” Gene Mills, president of the group, said in a statement Tuesday night.
“Tonight’s results on the sports betting proposition are not surprising. Out of state conglomerates spent $1 million to convince a battered Louisiana that we can gamble our way out of financial woe.”
The vote marks the second of its kind in the past two years.
In November, voters in nearly three out of four parishes in Louisiana voted to legalize online sports fantasy games for cash prizes.
In 2018, voters in 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes endorsed a move to legalize online sports fantasy games for cash prizes, including East Baton Rouge, Jefferson and Orleans parishes.
Most of the campaign this time was waged by backers through the pro-sports wagering group Louisiana Wins.
Two firms — DraftKings and FanDuel — donated more than half of the $975,000 that was raised in time for the Oct. 5 spending report. Each contributed $250,000, including dollars for TV and radio ads. Both companies largely financed the 2018 campaign for online fantasy sports two years ago.
Louisiana Wins said it had spent about $560,000 by early last month.
Issues that will have to be hammered out by the Legislature include how the games will be taxed and details of the betting, including, more significantly, whether internet and smartphone wagers will be allowed.
Those arguments are sure to generate controversy.
Backers are likely to argue that the more wide open the betting is, including bets from smartphones, the more money will be raised for key state services. They say there are huge differences between the amount of money raised by states like New Jersey, which allows betting from mobile devices, and those like Mississippi, which limits the practice to casino grounds.
Opponents are sure to contend that sports betting with few restrictions will lead to more issues for problem gamblers and will make the state overly reliant on a controversial practice.
How much the games will raise for state services is unclear.
Sports wagering is already allowed in 18 states and the District of Columbia. A 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the ability to make their own decisions.
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