Will Louisiana Go for Online Gambling?

April 5, 2018 by Carolyn J Dawson

louisiana online pokerVarious US states have recently been looking at passing online gambling bills. As we reported recently, New York chose not to even discuss it as part of the state budget. However, Louisiana has chosen to discuss the topic too, although it seems as though the state has taken a pass on it. This is simply so that it is able to explore the subject in greater detail.

It was on Tuesday that the Senate Committee on Judiciary within Louisiana looked to consider a selection of proposals that relate to gambling expansion within the Bayou State. While there was a decision to advance one bill on sports betting possibilities, Louisiana deferred on another that centred itself on online casino gaming, which also relates to online poker. Following the consideration of testimony on both sides of the coin, it was decided that more work was needed in order to please all parties relating to online gambling in the state.

It was Senator Danny Martiny who introduced the iGaming bill, and he also authored the sports betting bill in Louisiana. Martiny represents one of the districts that exists just outside New Orleans. However, he stated that both of these efforts are actually driven out of concern for Louisiana’s finances. He said that while sports betting and online gambling are not his life’s passion, sanctioning such gambling options could be the key of how to fix the lack of finances.

Further Discussion Needed

The talks relating to legalising online gambling were the very first that Louisiana has ever had, so it seems that lawmakers still require extra information about the industry before anything is properly sanctioned. Jeff Traylor from the Gaming Enforcement Division stated that the state is just going to have to learn. “See how everyone else does it”, he said, and then go on and figure things out.

When it comes to both the online gambling bills and sports betting propositions, a voter referendum would be required to ensure that they become official laws. However, primary opposition to the bills came from the state’s Video Gaming Association. This company is the operator of a large collection of video poker machines, which exist within various bars, gas stations, restaurants and other locations across Louisiana. While these are taxed at a huge rate, they do bring a revenue of over $320 million in for the state.

The chairman of the Gaming Association, Alton Ashy said that he and his company believe the bills will “devastate the industry”. This thought comes from the possibility that people will choose to stay at home to gamble, rather than utilise the poker machines that exist around the state. However, while there is the potential for people to choose to play games at home, the two markets relating to video gaming machines and casinos in the online world are most likely quite a different thing altogether.

That being said, lawmakers did cite a desire to retain jobs in Louisiana and held concerns over the potential “cannibalisation” when it comes to casino revenue as other reasons for holding off for the time being.