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Sports betting debate returns this year

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BATON ROUGE - State lawmakers will once again debate sports betting in Louisiana during the upcoming legislative session. Sen. Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) prefiled the bill Friday that would allow a statewide, parish-by-parish vote on the issue October 12.

In parishes where the majority of voters approve the practice, casinos and horse racetracks will be allowed to apply for sports betting licenses on January 1, 2020.

Last July, Mississippi approved sports betting at its casinos while Louisiana lawmakers shot down the proposal earlier in the year. According to conservative think tank Mississippi Center for Public Policy, gross casino revenue in that state rose more than five percent since sports betting was legalized.

It also reported total gaming revenues collected by state and local governments increased $9.2 million.

Sen. Martiny said he expects annual tax revenues in Louisiana to grow $20-$40 million if the practice is legalized. He added, revenues could fluctuate because sports betting is a volatile form of gambling.

Martiny said he expects a push in the legislature this session to dedicate the tax revenues for early childhood development, which he estimates is lacking about $81 million annually. Martiny said he wants to legalize sports betting so New Orleans casinos can compete with Mississippi and Shreveport area casinos can compete with Arkansas.


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