It isn’t just the fate of the US presidency that will be decided early next month, as the November election date will see a host of states holding referendums. For betting companies and fans of sports betting in the US state of Louisiana, next month’s referendum will prove decisive.
The progress towards legal sports betting since the Supreme Court decision of 2018 has been slower in Louisiana than in many other states, but next month the voters will say Yes or No to legalisation and the Yes campaign is being backed by a powerful coalition. The Louisiana Wins campaign has been highlighting what they say could be a $330 million tax windfall for the state, which could be used to support education and a host of public infrastructure projects.
The campaign has the backing of some of the big names in US betting. Three operators: DraftKings, Caesars and Fan Duel, have each given $250,000 to the fight, while Penn National, which runs the Barstool Sportsbook brand, and Boyd Gaming, have also made six figure donations in an effort to push forward with a legal betting market that could prove to be extremely lucrative.
The hopes of the Yes campaign are high. Although Louisiana’s referendum will involve tallying votes in each individual parish of the state, with a majority required, recent evidence suggests such a majority is achievable. Back in 2018, a vote to legalise Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competition in the state was passed by a 47-17 score.
But the experience of that vote underscores just how much work still needs to be done to bring in sports betting in Louisiana. Despite the positive vote on DFS, at the time of writing, the necessary regulations required to support DFS have still not been passed. Even if a Yes vote is forthcoming, the Louisiana state legislature will have to pass two separate bills to introduce the new industry. First they will have to authorise an enabling Act to facilitate sports betting, and then a bill to address the taxation of sports betting revenue. Legislators will also have to draw up new regulations to support the new sector. So whatever the outcome of next month’s referendum, the journey towards sports betting legality in Louisiana could yet be a long one.