Sports betting bill nets a loss before La. House committee

Sports betting bill nets a loss before La. House committee

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A bill to legalize sports betting in Louisiana failed to get a win in a state House committee on Tuesday (May 28), and instead the legislative panel shelved House Bill 153, sponsored by Senator Danny Martiny, R-Kenner.

Before that, Martiny tried to make the case for his legislation.

“I am just trying to allow our casinos to compete on an even playing field with Mississippi,” he said.

Sports betting involves predicting results of sporting events and then placing bets on them.

The state Senate has already approved Martiny’s bill that would let voters statewide decide if they want sports betting in their parish.

In an attempt to get the House Appropriations Committee to back the bill and send it to the full House of Representatives for consideration, Martiny emphasized that revenues from sports betting would benefit early childhood education programs in the state.

"This legislature has expressed its intention to deal with the problem of funding of early childhood education,” Martiny said.

Ronnie Jones, the head of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, also addressed legislators about the proposal.

"The original bill that Senator Martiny filed gives the board broad authority on the rules and regulations to define who can bet, who cannot bet,” Jones said.

But, some members of the panel moved to heavily amend the bill, including a proposal to add sports betting to video poker, which was proposed by Rep. Dustin Miller, D-Opelousas.

“Wouldn’t this be a way to get our locals to make more money?” Miller asked.

Martiny opposed that change.

"That to me would be an extreme expansion of gaming, which I think would be the demise of the bill,” Martiny said.

In the end, the panel voted 14 to 6 to shelve the bill.

Moving forward, there may be attempts to attach Martiny’s legislation to another bill making progress in the House.

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