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Louisiana lawmakers to debate parameters for sports betting

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BATON ROUGE — Now that voters in nearly all of Louisiana parishes have said they want to legalize sports betting, state lawmakers will debate in their upcoming legislative session what regulation parameters and taxes they want to enact on the wagering.

Senate President Page Cortez, who will sponsor the bill setting up rules for betting on live-action sports games, estimated Louisiana could see anywhere from $10 million to $20 million a year from taxes on sports betting.

But the Lafayette Republican said that sort of “meaningful revenue” only will come if the state allows sports betting through mobile apps on phones, as he will propose, rather than just through casinos and other existing gambling sites in the state.

Early childhood education advocates have eyed whatever money is generated from sports betting as a source of cash to expand access to early learning programs.

State Senator Cleo Fields and several other lawmakers want to use the estimated $10 million in taxes dollars a year from sports betting on early childhood education including a bill Senator Fields has proposed that will make kindergarten mandatory in Louisiana.

"The first step to early childhood education development is to make sure kindergarten is mandatory," Senator Fields said.

Cortez said while he backs increased spending for the programs, he would prefer to do it through general tax collections rather than earmarking the sports betting tax dollars to a specific program. The Senate president spoke Wednesday at a legislative leadership conference sponsored by policy group Ellevate Louisiana.

Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes agreed in November to legalize sports wagering in their parishes. Lawmakers in the session that starts April 12 will consider which live action sports games will be allowed in the gambling, where the wagers can happen and how much the activity will be taxed.


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