BATON ROUGE — Southwest Louisiana House members split their votes three ways here Tuesday on an unsuccessful, but continuing effort to legalize sports betting by sending the issue to voters.
Senate Bill 153 by Sen. Danny Martiny would have legalized the betting on college and professional sports contests, but it was rejected by a House committee after passing the Senate.
Rep. Joseph Marino, IGretna, tried a second time to discharge the sports betting bill from the House Appropriations Committee where it was rejected. He wanted to bring it to the full House as a rewritten bill that would let the state’s voters decide if they wanted sports betting in their parishes.
Only 41 representatives voted for the Marino motion, and there were 48 against. The sports betting issue isn’t dead yet because there are two more days in the session that has to end at 6 p.m. Thursday, and other revival efforts are expected.
Reps. Ryan Bourriaque, R-Cameron; Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff; A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles; and Stuart Moss, R-Sulphur, voted for Marino’s effort to revive the bill.
Reps. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, and Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings, voted against the move.
Reps. James Armes, DLeesville; Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek; and Frank Howard, R-Many, were recorded as absent.
House members who were opposed to reviving Martiny’s bill said they were concerned what might happen to it when it got back to the Senate. Marino insisted it would only send the issue to voters, but there was still considerable skepticism about what might happen in the Senate.
House Bill 459 by Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, sets up regulations for fantasy sports games, which is a different issue. When it reached the Senate, Martiny did something different from Marino. Martiny managed to add an amendment attaching his sports betting bill to Talbot’s legislation.
Talbot’s bill was sent back to the House to either accept or reject Martiny’s amendment. Talbot asked the House to reject it and it did. Now, the issue goes to a conference committee to iron out the differences in the bill.
The conference committee will have six members, three from the House and three from the Senate. Talbot will be one of the three from the House. Once the committee puts its report together, both the House and Senate will have to approve its contents.
Talbot also has a second fantasy sports games bill that deals only with fantasy sports games.
The sports betting issue has become a major issue during this session. An effort to legalize the betting last year failed.