New Gaming Control Board Head Hints At Timeline For Louisiana Sports Betting Launch

Ronnie Johns, the new chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, appeared on 107.3 FM on Tuesday and laid out an optimistic timeline for the launch of legal sports betting in the state.

“We’re hoping by mid-Fall to late-Fall we can have the rules in place so that …. licensees can start proceeding with building out their sports betting parlors in the casinos, at the racetracks, at Harrah’s in New Orleans,” Johns told morning show host Brian Haldane.

Johns resigned from the Louisiana state Senate to accept Gov. John Bel Edwards’ appointment to the position. He said he’s been recovering from knee replacement surgery and that his first day on the job was Monday.

Top on the LGCB’s priority list is promulgating, along with the gaming divisions of the attorney general’s office and the state police, Louisiana’s sports betting rules. Once the rules are implemented, the 15 riverboat casinos, four horse racing tracks, and Harrah’s New Orleans can be the first to apply for the state’s 20 sports betting licenses.

It’s About More Than Revenue

Johns said the state expects about $30 million in tax revenue from the first year of legal sports betting, a portion of which will go toward early childhood education, but that competition from bordering states for the wagering dollar has been a key motivator in legalizing and launching the industry in Louisiana.

“The real kicker in sports betting is helping us to insulate our gaming industry here in Louisiana,” he said.

The first legal sports bets in Mississippi were placed in August 2018, and Johns added, “It’s very apparent that people are leaving Louisiana, going to Mississippi to (bet on sports), and not doing it here in Louisiana.”

Louisiana will have a major advantage over Mississippi once sports betting goes live in the Pelican State. In Mississippi, bettors can wager on their mobile devices only if they are on a licensees’ property. Louisiana will not have such a restriction for mobile and online wagering.

“Mississippi has not engaged into online as of yet, and this is where we are going to be able to maybe take a step ahead of them,” Johns said. “It seems like we’re always a step behind Mississippi on gaming issues.”

About the Author

Marcus DiNitto

Marcus DiNitto is the editor of Maryland Sharp and Louisiana Sharp and a nationally recognized journalist specializing in sports betting and sports business. He has been managing editor at SportsBusiness Daily, USA Sports Gaming, Sporting News, and The Linemakers. Marcus earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.