Louisiana, New Jersey Mull Choices That Would Expand Sports Betting Options

Still work to be done

A week ago, voters in six states approved ballot measures that either legalized or expanded gambling in some form. And though that means many gambling proponents can breathe a sigh of relief, the legal wrangling is not over in some locations. Lawmakers in both Louisiana and New Jersey have some debates ahead of them on how restrictive they want their gambling to be.

whether or not mobile betting will be permitted.

Residents of 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted in favor of legalizing sports betting last Tuesday. The details such as taxation, regulation, and licensing still need to be worked out, but of emerging concern is whether or not mobile betting will be permitted.

New Jersey has had legal sports betting since late 2018 and did not have a referendum on the November 3 ballot, but a new bill aims to get one on next year’s ballot. The bill, amended Monday, would permit betting on college teams based in New Jersey, as well as on college games that take place in the state.

Louisiana: mobile betting or not?

The Louisiana legislature originally passed Senate Bill 130 to approve sports betting this spring; Governor John Bel Edwards signed the bill on June 11. The bill did not explicitly legalize sports wagering statewide, but rather allowed the issue to be put to the residents of each parish last week. Most of the parishes voted to legalize sports betting, many by extremely wide margins. One detail that is missing, though, is whether wagering will be restricted to the state’s casinos or if people will be allowed to bet on their computers or mobile devices.

A fiscal note attached to the legislation said that the revenue the state might bring in would be “relatively small,” implying that the assumption was that sports wagering would be brick-and-mortar only. It pointed to neighboring Mississippi, which does not permit mobile betting and only raised about $3.5m for the state’s coffers in 2019.

Proponents point to New Jersey for how lucrative sports betting could be if mobile betting is legalized. Granted, New Jersey has over 4 million more residents than does Louisiana, but it has pulled in $80m in tax revenue in less than two years; 80% of that came from mobile betting.

Naturally, opponents worry that mobile betting could lend itself to greater problem gambling, as betting would be much more prevalent than if it is restricted to casinos. Proponents of mobile point mainly to the funds that can be generated.

if you don’t do mobile, it is not going to be much money

“Everybody that knows the industry knows that if you don’t do mobile, it is not going to be much money,” said House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee. “If you do mobile, it is.”

New Jersey may expand college betting

In New Jersey, the issue is much narrower. As mentioned, the state already has legalized, regulated sports betting, both at casinos and over the internet. The industry is thriving – the state took in $668m in wagers in August, a monthly record for any state, including Nevada. And while Garden State bettors can bet from anywhere in the state and on almost anything, they cannot bet on college games held in the state or on games involving New Jersey-based teams.

The new bill, introduced last month, aimed to expand college betting to include New Jersey teams or games played in the state, but only in the playoffs or championship games. The goal was for the state’s sportsbooks to take advantage of major events like the NCAA basketball tournament or football bowl games.

effectively removing all major restrictions

Monday’s amendment expanded it to include regular season, as well, effectively removing all major restrictions.

The original version of the bill that legalized sports betting prohibited anyone that owned at least 10% of a professional sports team from taking sports bets. That would have hurt the Golden Nugget, owned by Tilman Fertitta, who bought the NBA’s Houston Rockets in 2017. Fertitta fought to have it changed, and it was, but Golden Nugget was still barred from taking bets on NBA games. Last year, a new bill was passed and signed into law that removed that restriction.

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