It appears the gambling debate will go down to the wire.

As the legislative session winds down, it’s likely that some key gambling issues will not be fully resolved until the final gavel on Thursday, June 6.

But there have been some key votes on several bills which give a glimpse as to the outcome. SB153 by Sen. Danny Martiny would authorize sports betting as a new form of gambling for our state. If passed, it would be put to a vote of the people this fall. However, the House Appropriations Committee chaired by Representative Cameron Henry rejected the bill. There were attempts to bring the bill directly to the House floor but those attempts have failed so far. A bill to tax sports betting also failed in the House.

HB459 by Rep. Kirk Talbot passed the House and was scheduled for a vote in the Senate. The bill was amended to include sports betting… yes, the same sports betting that the House had already rejected. That new Omnibus sports betting bill passed the full Senate. The House would have to concur in the Senate amendments in order for the bill to get to the Governor’s desk. Most likely, the bill will end up in conference committee at which time it could take on a life of its own. A bill to tax fantasy sports failed in the Senate, leaving more questions as to the fate of this new type of gambling.

With the amendments to HB459 to combine Fantasy Sports and Sports Betting, Senator Martiny married two concepts: Virtual sports betting and actual sports betting are converging! In fact, companies like Draft Kings which offer Fantasy Sports Contests also offer Sports Book.

So – the drama continues. In the meantime, this type of theatre is being played out in other states around the country. It looks like the same Gambling, Inc. playbook is being used in Massachusetts. Proponents of sports betting argue that it will bring in lots of money for much-needed state services, other states are doing it, and existing gambling venues need a new influx of customers. However, just as we have pointed out in Louisiana, gambling has huge social and economic costs when compared to the revenue it generates. And here in Louisiana, gamblers in Louisiana leave approximately $3 billion of lost personal wealth on the table every year. One study found Louisiana to be the 10th most gambling addicted state in the nation.

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