A push to legalize fixed-odds betting in New Jersey for horse races is making progress, while Louisiana Senators gave the proposed regulatory framework for sports betting their approval. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Legislation gains momentum in both states
Two bills to legalize fixed-odds betting in New Jersey for horse races are making progress in the state legislature, getting approval by committees in the Senate and General Assembly on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Senators on Wednesday strongly voted in favor of the proposed regulatory framework for legal sports betting in the state.
A4909 got approval in the New Jersey Assembly’s Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts Committee after a 7-0 vote. The Appropriations Committee considered the bill next, giving it the green light after an extensive hearing. The vote was 10-0 in favor of passage, with one person not submitting a vote. Senate Bill 3090 is an identical bill that got approval in the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee after an 11-0 vote.
goal in Louisiana is to have sportsbooks up and running in time for the start of the football season
The vote on Senate Bill 247 in Louisiana was 31-6 in favor of passage. The proposed legislation would allow wagers online and at retail sportsbooks in casinos, as well as at betting kiosks in bars and restaurants that have a liquor license. The goal in Louisiana is to have sportsbooks up and running in time for the start of the football season this fall.
The legislation will next advance to the Louisiana House for consideration. If fully approved and signed into law, the measures would come into effect on July 1.
Boosting New Jersey’s horse racing industry
The New Jersey bills seek to allow fixed-odds betting in addition to the existing pari-mutuel wagering on horse races. The measures contain provisions that would see fixed-odds betting operators pay half of the profits, following the deduction of relevant expenses, to the state’s horse racing sector.
The proposed bills will pass to the floors of the Senate and General Assembly for a full vote. The General Assembly vote is scheduled to take place on Thursday. If it gets sufficient support, the legislation will then go to Governor Phil Murphy’s desk for consideration before he decides to sign it into law.
The idea of legalizing fixed-odds betting has caused heated debate in the state’s racing industry. Opponents of the proposal believe that fixed-odds wagering would ultimately lead to lower revenues for the racing industry. Those in favor argue that its popularity would help to generate bigger handle for horse racing by attracting a new audience of bettors. The horse racing industry relies heavily on betting revenues for survival.
Some operators are already looking to position themselves for the potential introduction of legal fixed-odds racing betting in the state. Sportsbook company PointsBet and the Australia-based BetMakers Technology Group entered a partnership last July that would allow PointsBet to quickly roll out fixed-odds racing betting if the measure gets the green light. BetMakers also has an agreement with Monmouth Park that will see the horse racing betting technology company manage on-course fixed odds for the New Jersey racetrack.
Louisiana legal sports betting on the horizon
Louisiana Senators had amended SB247 before voting on it. The main change was to allow casinos to obtain temporary operating licenses, allowing them to offer betting options during the football season while their retail sportsbooks were under construction.
a total of 20 licenses would be up for grabs
Legal sports betting first became a reality in Louisiana after 55 of the 64 parishes in Louisiana voted in favor of allowing sports betting last November. As part of SB247, a total of 20 licenses would be up for grabs divided between riverboat casinos, racetracks, and the Harrah’s casino in New Orleans. Applicants would need to meet suitability criteria before they can obtain a license, which would be valid for five years.
Casinos would need to build an area at their properties to facilitate retail sports betting. Each license holder would be able to host two online sportsbooks, totaling 40 available online sports betting licenses in the state. The Louisiana Lottery Commission would also get a license, operating through a contracted provider. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board would be in charge of regulating the sector.
Two other bills are also part of Louisiana’s sports betting framework package. House Bill 697 sets the taxes and fees for the sector; its language is currently undergoing vetting by the Legislative Bureau. It proposes a 10% tax rate on retail sportsbooks revenue, rising to 15% for online sportsbooks. The next step for the bill will be a full Senate vote.
Also awaiting Senate consideration is Senate Bill 142, which seeks to appropriate revenue coming from sports betting. The measure estimates that annual tax revenue for the state from sports betting could reach up to $50m.