Sports betting bill passes legislative committee

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "It does well. it provides entertainment," says Frank Bordelon.

Frank Bordelon owns Liuzza's, and his main business is serving up food and drinks in his restaurant. But he also has video poker machines.

"People will bet on just about anything at any time," says Bordelon.

Sen. Danny Martiny's bill, which has passed committee, brings legalized sports betting one step closer to a reality.

"It depends on which venues would have it. The bill in it's original form just said land-based casinos and riverboats could have them, but today video poker venues were added in and so was race tracks," says Martiny.

Martiny believes the tax revenue from sports betting will be a solution to the state's budget problems. While the bill is being debated in the Legislature, federal law prohibits any kind of sports betting outside the state of Nevada. The Supreme Court is right now hearing a case that would allow individual states to have it. Martiny points out that the Mississippi - and possibly Arkansas - legislatures have already passed sports betting bills, as they too await the Supreme Court ruling.

Martiny believes Louisiana must act before it's too late.

"Not only are we not going to get new revenue, we are going to be losing revenue because we won't be able to compete with those markets," says Martiny.

Bordelon welcomes the idea of getting a sports betting machine of some sort in his restaurant, but he has a lot of questions. He wonders if big payouts would require him to have a large amount of cash on hand. Plus, does it make his business more of a target for criminals?

"If you're handling more cash and people know you're bringing in more cash, all of a sudden, you look a little more opportunistic to a thief or criminal," says Bordelon.

The State Police Gaming Division would oversee it.

If the sports betting bill passes the Legislature, the ultimate decision will be left up to voters in each individual parish.

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