The legal launch of mobile sports betting in Louisiana is drawing nearer and nearer, but there are no guarantees it will happen before the Super Bowl.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns told Covers on Wednesday that while "we are getting close" to the rollout of online sportsbooks in the southern state, he couldn’t give a definitive date for when that will happen.
Johns said the gaming division of the state police is "working overtime" on any compliance and suitability issues with vendors. Regulators are also trying to make sure "geofencing" technology needed to screen the location of bettors is functioning properly before online sports wagering goes live.
“We want to roll it out [as] quickly as possible but we have to do it the right way and make absolutely sure that everything is in working order, not just for the gaming board but for the customer as well,” Johns added in an email. “The last thing we want is our customer base to have a bad experience."
Johns said he hopes to have everything up and running before the Super Bowl. However, the chairman added there is no guarantee they can meet that deadline.
Waiting is the hardest part
Retail sports betting has already begun at several casinos in Louisiana, which follows voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes (similar to counties) voting in favor of allowing such wagering back in November 2020.
Louisiana lawmakers then passed legislation last year that permits the gaming control board to issue up to 20 licenses for in-person and online sportsbooks. The Louisiana Lottery Corp. was authorized as well to take sports wagers via website, mobile app, and retail kiosks.
But getting mobile sports betting live across the state is taking a bit more time and effort. The looming launch has its own unique challenges, such as the need for technology that ensures online sportsbooks are not available in the nine parishes in which a majority of voters shot down sports betting.
Bettors across the state need to be 21 or older and be physically located in one of the 55 parishes that did vote in favor of legal sports betting in November 2020 to wager. The latter requirement is why state regulators are carefully scrutinizing their geofencing capabilities.
In the meantime, Louisiana bettors looking to get a wager down will have to take their business to a casino authorized to offer sports gambling, such as Harrah's New Orleans. Eight state-regulated sportsbooks accepted approximately $27.6 million in bets in November, which generated around $5.7 million in revenue for operators.
Still, Louisiana State Police Major Chuck McNeal acknowledged in December that the launch of online betting is the “big question” for many in Louisiana.
“We're working diligently on that just so you know, to get that done,” the major said during a meeting of the gaming control board. “Because we understand that's a big revenue source and a big thing that the public wants, because that allows more individuals in the state to actually wager on [sports]."