Legal sports betting is beginning to bloom in Louisiana, but the launch of online wagering is still likely a few months away.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns told Covers he issued four licenses on Friday for on-property sports betting, with the permits effective as of Sunday.
The four properties authorized for in-person sports betting included Caesars Entertainment Inc.’s Harrah's New Orleans and Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel and Casino. Both have begun accepting wagers.
Penn National Gaming Inc.’s L’Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge and its Boomtown casino in Harvey were the other two properties issued retail sports betting licenses, Johns said in an email. The chairman expected the two facilities to open sportsbooks on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
“This leaves us with [nine] pending applications,” Johns added. “As [Louisiana] State Police approve their internal controls in days and weeks to come I will be signing more licenses as they are recommended.”
OSB still TBD
After voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes approved sports betting last November, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation in June authorizing the state’s gaming control board to regulate sports betting and issue up to 20 licenses for brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks. The first crack at those licenses was to go to Harrah’s New Orleans, as well as 15 licensed riverboats and four live horse-racing tracks.
Yet the Paragon’s sportsbook is the product of a partnership between Betfred Sports and the casino’s owners, the state's Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Its tribal ownership means it is not subject to the regulatory authority of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
The opening of more, state-sanctioned retail betting locations was in the works, though. Johns told Covers on October 6 that regulators were “working diligently” to license state-regulated casinos for in-person sports betting and he was hopeful the process would be complete in a few weeks.
Johns also noted that Hurricane Ida had caused a setback of at least two weeks, as the storm forced the gaming division of the state police to deploy for recovery efforts.
“They are now back at full force in their licensing work,” Johns said in an email.
Still, online sports betting in Louisiana likely remains months away, “probably two months minimum,” Johns told Covers on Friday.
After a catalog of allowable sports bets was adopted at the gaming control board’s October 21 meeting, Johns said there had been “rumors” that online sports betting would legally start in the state as early as that coming weekend. He was quick to swat away that speculation.
“I will just say publicly that that's not going to happen,” Johns said. “That is strictly rumor. And we are going through an extensive process on online licensing. It's a very complicated process, and we're going to do it the right way.”
Sportsbook operators are still getting their ducks in a row for when the online launch does happen.
Caesars announced on October 22 that its Caesars Sportsbook app was officially available for bettors to download, albeit so they could sign up, deposit funds, and start checking odds — but not bet.
Louisiana is a key market for Caesars, which recently secured the 20-year exclusive naming rights for the New Orleans Saints’ home stadium. Caesars is the official sportsbook partner of LSU Athletics as well.
To mark the launch of retail sports betting on Sunday, Caesars had former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert place the first wager at Harrah’s. The bet was reportedly a $1,100 wager on New Orleans plus four-and-a-half points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which won, with the proceeds now supposed to go to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Harrah's New Orleans and Horseshoe Bossier City are currently taking bets at temporary sportsbooks inside the casino. However, Caesars says both facilities will open a "brand-new state-of-the-art retail sportsbook" next year.
"The launch of our sportsbooks at Harrah's and Horseshoe is just the beginning,” said Eric Hession, co-president of Caesars Digital, in an October 31 press release. “Once mobile sports betting is live, we look forward to serving sports fans on every platform and offering all of our customers unforgettable experiences with Caesars Rewards."