Filed on Feb. 28 by Representative Major Thibaut (DEM), House Bill 245 would reportedly expand gaming by authorizing “the conducting of additional gaming activities and sports betting at eligible live horse racing facilities if approved by local option election,” by amending the present law.
The bill refers to “eligible facility” to include the four parishes where the state’s four licensed racinos are situated: St. Landry Parish (Evangeline Downs), Bossier Parish (Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino And Racetrack), Orleans Parish (Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots) and Calcasieu Parish (Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel).
Where the proposed law differs from the present law is how “game” is defined. Currently, “game” does not include “any wagering on any type of sports event, including but not limited to football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing, tennis, wrestling, jai alai, or other sports contest or event.” HB245 would amend the definition of “game” to include those.
What the bill would not do is authorize online or mobile sports wagering.
HB245 is currently pending Louisiana House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.
The traction gained last year by the New Jersey sports betting case (Christie vs NCAA) appears to have served as a catalyst for more states to push for legal sports betting. Oral arguments in the case that seeks to overturn a 25-year-old piece of federal legislation that bans sports betting in all but four states were heard by the US Supreme Court on Dec. 4, 2017.
The Christie verdict is expected to come in June at the latest. A victory for the Garden State could mean other states could legalize sports betting, should the high court rule that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is unconstitutional.
While PASPA does not ban sports gambling nationwide as a matter of federal law, the act instead says the states, with the exception of those already grandfathered in, cannot permit it. Christie’s side contends that the law violates the Constitution’s protection of state’s rights.
While Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon are grandfathered in, only Nevada allows single-game betting.
Those who would like to see the ambiguous law done away with, including the American Gaming Association (AGA), estimate that nearly $150 billion a year is spent by Americans on illegal sports wagering. The AGA went so far as to estimate that 97% of all domestic wagers on Super Bowl LII were likely to be placed illegally.
Currently, 17 states including Louisiana have introduced legislation that would legalize sports betting.
in related news, should the US Supreme Court rule PAPSA unconstitutional this year, Churchill Downs Inc. is at the ready having recently announced plans to purchase two casinos, including one in Pennsylvania (Presque Isle Downs and Casino) and the other in Mississippi (Lady Luck Casino Vicksburg). Both states have active sports gambling bills, as do Illinois, Kentucky and now Louisiana, where Churchill Downs’ owns other land-based properties.