Louisiana could have daily fantasy sports in time for the 2020 NFL season after a bill related to tax rates was signed on Tuesday.
State Governor John Bel Edwards put pen to paper on House Bill 64, which sets the rate for regulated operators at 8%.
HB 64 had been approved by the Louisiana Senate last month, with a special legislative session called due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes had actually voted to legalize the vertical via a referendum in 2018, but it ultimately did not launch.
Daily fantasy sports’ long-awaited arrival in Louisiana shouldn’t be far away
Had the Bayou State’s residents had their voices heard in 2018, daily fantasy sports would have become available to 92% of the state’s population at the time. These parishes will all be able to regulate the vertical once the final details are completed.
In a weird turn of events, the impact of the pandemic has seemed to speed up the process for daily fantasy sports finally coming to fruition. Normally, matters where tax is involved can only be discussed in fiscal years – as per the Louisiana legislature. This means that in normal circumstances, next year would be the earliest that such legislation could be passed.
The exception is if an “extraordinary session” is held, as has been the case this time around.
Once the session was announced, Rep. John Stefanski took this opportunity to put HB 64 forward. Stefanski said:
“We’re still looking at this upcoming football season not knowing what will happen with the pandemic.
“But we expect daily fantasy sports to be up and running in Louisiana for this football season.”
Players in Louisiana will be able to play daily fantasy sports via DraftKings and FanDuel. Tax earnings will go to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund.
Why was daily fantasy sports not introduced in 2018?
After daily fantasy sports was voted in favor of two years ago, the matter was discussed in the 2019 legislative session. Rep. Danny Martiny wanted sports betting to be added to daily fantasy sports legislation, which had been approved by the Senate. The measure, titled Senate Bill 153, would have led to a referendum last October.
Despite the Senate’s approval, the House rejected Martiny’s extension. In their opinion, it was an “unacceptable expansion of gambling” – as The Advocate reported. Disgruntled by this decision, Martiny – who was on his way out of the legislature – filibustered the daily fantasy sports bill in the final moments of his tenure.
Sports betting also in the pipeline
Louisiana has in recent months moved forward with proposed constitutional changes that would legalize sports betting in the state. A referendum will take place this November, with residents in the state getting the opportunity to say yes or no to regulating the vertical.
Only the parishes that vote in favor of sports betting will be allowed to offer licenses. Those that vote against doing so will miss their chance.
Stefanski thinks that sports betting will be popular among voters. He believes that the vertical is more widely known than daily fantasy sports, which is an advantage.
Stefanski said the below.
“I think more parishes will be interested in sports betting because people understand it more.
“We had to explain to some older generations what fantasy sports were, but I think everyone understands sports betting.”
Following the referendum’s results, tax matters and regulations that operators must adhere to will be discussed in 2021. Once those details are finalized, the state can move towards launching its sports betting market.