Louisiana needs to appoint a new gambling regulatory chief before it can officially open its own regulated sports betting market. The post was made vacant following the resignation of former chairman Mike Noel on June 9.
Noel opted to step down from the post, preempting a Senate confirmation hearing where he could have been placed under extensive questioning by legislators regarding his State Police tenure during which a Black man was fatally arrested. His death is still being investigated.
Before local punters can legally place bets, the Gaming Control Board must first promulgate the rules. The agency would not be able to do that in the absence of a gambling board leader, as confirmed by Republican state Senate President Page Cortez, who was among lawmakers who authored a series of bills to legalize sports betting in Louisiana.
The implementation of sports betting in Louisiana marks the state’s biggest gambling expansion since casinos, video poker, and the lottery were established there in the early 1990s.
As soon as the state’s gambling regulator promulgate the rules, casinos can commence building betting parlors where they can operate Las Vegas-style sports books. Restaurants and bars will also be authorized to set up sports betting kiosks. Mobile wagering will also be allowed. The gaming board will initially grant 20 sportsbook licenses.
Legalized sports betting will not be implemented in the whole of Louisiana though, as residents in 9 of the state’s 64 parishes rejected the gaming expansion in a vote last fall, namely, Catahoula, Caldwell, LaSalle, Union, Jackson, West Carroll, Winn, and Franklin. Residents from these parishes will be blocked from placing mobile sports bets via a technology called “geofencing”.
Governor To Appoint New Chair
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to appoint a new chairman at the earliest based on a statement from spokesperson Christina Stephen.
Republican Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns has been speculated to take over the role, and he recently confirmed that he and the governor have been in talks about the matter. He has also expressed willingness to serve as gambling regulatory chief should the governor offer him the position.
Cortez said that prior to Noel’s resignation, the former chairman indicated that sports betting could be up and running in Louisiana in early 2022, just in time for the Super Bowl. But that could change now, according to Cortez.