Yes, Louisiana sports betting could be available later this year, but only in most of the state. Last November, when voters in each of the state’s 64 parishes went to the ballot box to decide the matter of the legality of wagering on sporting events, they did it on a parish-by-parish basis.
The voters to approve overruled the dissenting voters in the vast majority of the state. However, a majority isn’t the same thing as unanimous approval. Louisianans need to know where in their state legal sportsbooks won’t be allowed to operate.
Which parishes voted down legal Louisiana sports betting?
In total, voters in nine parishes effectively “opted out” of gambling expansion. In most of them, the ballot measure saw a narrow defeat. Following are the nine parishes and the certified tally in alphabetical order.
- Caldwell – No 2,284 (52.11%) to Yes 2,099 (47.89%)
- Catahoula – No 2,281 (52.03%) to Yes 2,103 (47.97%)
- Franklin – No 4,496 (51.72%) to Yes 4,197 (48.28%)
- Jackson – No 3,580 (50.69%) to Yes 3,483 (49.31%)
- La Salle – No 4,047 (60.52%) to Yes 2,640 (39.48%)
- Sabine – No 4,885 (50.96%) to Yes 4,701 (49.04%)
- Union – No 5,124 (50.19%) to Yes 5,086 (49.81%)
- West Carroll – No 2,583 (56.34%) to Yes 2,002 (43.66%)
- Winn – No 2,970 (52.58%) to Yes 2,679 (47.42%)
Why did the vote break down this way? LA has a strong precedent for placing gambling expansion up to a popular vote and doing so on a parish-by-parish basis instead of one statewide ballot. For example, the same format legalized daily fantasy sports contests for real money in most of the state in 2018.
As far as why the vote went the way it did in these parishes, it could have been a myriad of reasons. A likely factor is population density, though. In many states that posed a similar question to their voters, approval rates fell in more rural areas as compared to urban centers.
For those interested in legal wagering, the good news is that these are some of the least-populated parishes in the state. All of them have an estimated population of fewer than 24,000 people. Thus, in most of the state’s bigger cities, legal betting is on its way.
That also means in all of the parishes with casinos, off-track betting sites, and sports stadiums, legal betting will be good to go. Still, for Louisianans who either live in these parishes or might be visiting them after the launch of legal sports betting apps in LA, there are probably questions. To some extent, the answers to them are still pending.
What do these divisions mean for bettors in LA?
The enabling legislation for LA sports betting is still in the process of finalization in Baton Rouge. Other regulations from the LA Gaming Control Board will follow that as well. Until that all becomes final, there’s some “wait and see” when it comes to the full picture of regulated wagering in LA.
There are some logical conclusions available right now, though. When online sportsbooks go live in LA, they will have to geofence their operations to exclude those parishes which voted to make betting illegal. Thus, if you live in one such parish, you’ll have to travel to place your bets.
However, that’s the only time you’ll have to leave home. You will be able to register accounts, make deposits and withdrawals, and browse the markets in these nine parishes. The only thing you won’t be able to do is actually make your wagers.
If you’re going to visit such a place, obviously you’ll want to get your bets down before you cross the parish line. Once you’re across, you won’t be able to actually stake your wagers. As previously mentioned, though, all the other app functions will remain available.
The timeline for the launch of legal sportsbooks in LA is still unofficial though later this year remains a possibility. Whenever that time comes, Louisianans will need to be aware that there are some parts of their state that won’t participate.