BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Lawmakers in the Louisiana House have backed a regulatory framework and tax rate for online fantasy sports contests for cash prizes, games that were legalized in nearly three-quarters of the state’s parishes in November’s election.
Forty-seven of Louisiana’s 64 parishes supported the ballot measure, making Louisiana the 42nd state to allow online fantasy sports betting. With websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel, people create imaginary teams of real-life sports players and score points based on how those players perform in actual games. The sites charge an entry fee and offer payouts to winners.
Before Louisiana residents can start participating in the fantasy sports betting sites, lawmakers must enact the rules and taxing plans, which are contained in two bills by Republican Rep. Kirk Talbot, of River Ridge. They won House passage in separate votes Tuesday and Wednesday.
The regulatory framework measure passed with exactly the two-thirds support it needed to reach the Senate, with Talbot urging his colleagues to back the proposal.
“The people have spoken,” he said. “Please help me regulate this thing the way it should be regulated.”
The House supported the legislation with a 70-28 vote Tuesday.
Fantasy sports contest operators would have to get a license from the state Gaming Control Board and players of the games would have to be at least 21 years old. The games couldn’t involve high school or youth athletic events. Any fantasy sports operator who allows someone underage to bet on its sites would face civil penalties and license revocation.
The rules would take effect July 1.
Talbot successfully stripped language added to his proposal in committee that would have limited playing the online sports contests for cash prizes only in video poker or other locations requiring people to be at least 21. Talbot said such limitations undermined what Louisiana’s residents supported in the election.
“They did not vote for this,” he said.
The tax bill received an 81-16 vote Wednesday. It would set a 15% tax rate on net gaming proceeds, with 10% going to state coffers for early childhood education and 5% to parish government agencies.
Talbot said he hopes sports enthusiasts will be able to start betting on fantasy sports by the fall – though the games only will be permitted in parishes where voters authorized it. Anybody will be able to log into the online sites if they travel to those parishes. Talbot has said the sites will use a technology called geofencing to wall off designated areas, so people using computers or mobile phones outside of those spaces can’t participate.