BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Months after most Louisiana voters agreed to legalize sports betting, lawmakers Thursday gave final passage to rules that will allow wagering through sports book sites, mobile apps and kiosk locations in parishes where voters supported the activity.
A 33-3 Senate vote sent the regulatory bill by Republican Senate President Page Cortez to the governor's desk. The House earlier had voted 78-15 for the legislation. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign the measure into law, paving the way for betting on sports events to begin as early as the fall.
Voters in 55 of Louisiana's 64 parishes agreed to allow sports betting on live-action games, but lawmakers had to set the rules and the tax rates before the gambling can begin. The tax bill received final legislative passage earlier in the session.
Lawmakers are creating 20 licenses for sports book operators, with Louisiana's casinos and racetracks given first chance to get those licenses. If those casinos and racetracks don't seek all 20 licenses by Jan. 1, fantasy sports betting operators and video poker establishments in the parishes where sports wagering is legal will be eligible to apply.
Any operator that gets a license to conduct sports betting onsite also can do the wagering through a website and mobile app. The Louisiana Lottery Corporation will operate its own sports book through an online site, mobile app and kiosk locations set up in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Those interested in placing bets will have to be 21 or older and set up an account with a sports betting operator in the state. No bets can be placed on high school or youth sports events. Athletes, coaches and referees can't bet on a sports event in which they are involved. People who live in parishes that did not approve sports betting can place wagers if they head to a parish where sports betting was legalized.
The state will tax the net gaming proceeds of the sports betting operators, with a 10% tax collected on wagering at onsite locations and a 15% tax on wagering through mobile apps and electronic devices. Sports betting operators also will be charged application and licensing fees. Edwards has already signed the tax and fee measure into law.
When sports betting starts generating money for the state, 25% of the revenue up to $20 million will go to early learning programs for children. Other dollars will go to the horse racing industry, local government, other programs and the general state treasury.
The bill is filed as Senate Bill 247.
Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.