Sports betting, internet gambling bills introduced by lawmaker to address revenue problem

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - While the state's budget crisis blame game is ongoing, one local lawmaker is betting on a different kind of game to possibly pull the state out of the red.

"We need to come up with a stable revenue stream to run our government. We haven't been doing that. We're doing temporary sales tax and sun-setting this and sun-setting that. That's just not the way to do it," Sen. Danny Martiny-R said.

The Jefferson Parish lawmaker has introduced two bills that look to expand Louisiana's gaming laws. SB322 would allow popular internet gaming websites to be regulated and legal. SB266 would allow people to place bets on sporting events at locations under the umbrella of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Martiny admits SB322 is unlikely to pass, but he is optimistic about SB266.

The U.S. Supreme court is expected to rule on the legality of sports gambling in the upcoming months.

Mississippi recently passed a law similar to SB266, anticipating a favorable ruling for gamblers.

"I think there is a good chance that we would consider sports book betting because I'm going to tell you Beau Rivage and all those Mississippi casinos - they already approved it and that will cut into the New Orleans market," Martiny said. "Arkansas is also looking to approve the same and cut into the Shreveport market."

If the bills are passed into law, voters in each parish would decide whether or not to make it legal where they live.

"I think a lot of people who were dead set against it on a moral basis now look at it from the standpoint of, well I'm not going to do it. But if these people want to waste their money doing it, I'd rather take their gambling revenue, rather than raise my sales tax or do away with my excess itemized deductions or compressed the income tax brackets so that we can raise money, all of which have been rejected during the last special session," Martiny said.

If sports betting is legalized in Louisiana and the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of it, it could be placed on the ballot as early as November.

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