Sports betting will surface at session

The American Press

Another effort to legalize sports betting in Louisiana is expected to take place at this year’s legislative session, but don’t look for supporters to say it’s going to bring in millions of tax dollars. Instead, they will be talking about the fact other states are quickly approving sports betting and it helps the hospitality industry.

The Associated Press in a recent report said Nevada, which was first to legalize the new form of gambling, found that revenue from sports betting accounted for roughly one-half of 1 percent of the entire state budget. A major selling point is the fact sports betting is taking place anyway and it should be regulated.

Former New Jersey state Sen. Raymond Lesniak began the effort to legalize sports betting in his state, but admitted it wasn’t a major moneymaker.

It wasn’t intended to do that,” Lesniak said. “I was driven by the fact that the Atlantic City casino industry was dying and the horse racing industry was on life support. It needed an injection of new money and new people that would come, fill up rooms, eat in restaurants, spend money.”

Louisiana state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, sponsored last year’s unsuccessful sports betting bill and said he plans to do it again this year. Martiny complained that the delay in approving sports betting was only going to hurt his state because Mississippi moved quickly to approve the new gaming venue.

Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, said, “If we don’t address it, the world will be way out ahead of Louisiana and we’re going to be lagging behind.”

Supporters in other states are promoting sports betting by saying the new revenues will be directed to specific areas of the state budget. Louisiana promoted the use of lottery and other gambling revenues for educational purposes.

The AP said states that launched sports betting in 2018 expect it will bring in tax revenue that ranges from about $5 million in Mississippi and West Virginia to $25 million in New Jersey. The American Gaming Association said the estimated sports betting in Louisiana would total between $245 million and $288 million annually, producing from $52 million to $62 million in taxes.

Only time will tell whether those numbers become a reality, but Louisiana’s may be too optimistic. However, supporters will continue to insist Louisiana has to do it because other states are doing it.

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