How Louisiana’s Sports Betting Bill Approaches Problem Gambling

Louisiana is about to launch retail and mobile sports betting. So, it’s going to become easy for many bettors to place sports bets. However, easy access to new gambling platforms is a double-edged sword. Louisiana must prepare for an increase in problem gambling. 

Louisiana’s sports betting bill mandates the most basic responsible gaming principles recommended by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). However, there are two principles that Louisiana’s sports betting legislation can improve upon. It must conduct ongoing problem gambling surveys and increase funding for intervention, treatment, and prevention. 

The NCPG’s Five Responsible Gaming Principles 

In congressional testimony, the NCPG recommended five responsible gaming principles to enshrine in-state and federal gambling bills: 

  • Mandating responsible gaming measures for sportsbooks
  • Assigning a regulatory agency to oversee sports betting  
  • Setting a minimum age for sports betting
  • Allocating 1% of sports betting revenue to problem gambling intervention 
  • Conducting ongoing surveys to track problem gambling rates

The first three principles are in almost every state’s sports betting bill. However, the last two are chronic shortcomings in most state gambling industries. Problem gambling funding and surveys don’t have to be directly addressed in a sports betting bill. But they should be covered by some other state body. Louisiana’s sports betting bill includes the first three responsible gaming principles, but Louisiana must improve its commitment to the last two.   

The Three Basic Responsible Gaming Principles 

Although the NCPG recommends state bills include five responsible gaming principles, three of them are standard offerings in-state sports betting bills:

  • Mandating responsible gaming measures for sportsbooks
  • Assigning a regulatory agency to oversee sports betting  
  • Setting a minimum age for sports betting 

The NCPG would like to see these in a federal gaming bill, however, they’re the most common responsible gaming principles that states include in their bills. They’re also the easiest for states to enforce. For example, sports betting bills require sportsbooks to offer bettors time limits, wager limits, and self-exclusion options. Since sportsbooks will bend over backward for sports betting licenses, this is a powerful way for states to offer bettors responsible gaming options.   

Assigning regulatory agencies and setting sports betting ages are even more fundamental. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board oversees all gaming and sports betting in-state. It writes industry regulations, awards licenses, and enforces standards. It can fine licensees, suspend licenses, and in extreme cases, revoke them. Its regulations also require sportsbooks to keep underage bettors off their platforms. The sports betting bill sets the legal sports betting age at 21, and the Gaming Division of the Louisiana State Police enforces it. 

These three principles are the low-hanging fruit of responsible gaming. It’s encouraging that some responsible gaming principles are standard in-state gaming bills, but sports betting expansion demands greater investment in problem gambling intervention. 

The Expensive Responsible Gaming Principles 

The NCPG’s remaining two responsible gaming principles are more expensive for states. They’re long-term investments requiring ongoing coordination and adaptable legislation. The remaining responsible gaming principles for sports betting are:

  • Allocating 1% of sports betting revenue to problem gambling intervention 
  • Conducting ongoing surveys to track problem gambling rates 

Budgeting 1% of sports betting revenue allows states to scale problem gambling treatment as cases fluctuate. This allows states to scale their problem gambling programs when they expand their gambling industries. However, all this money doesn’t have to come from sports betting taxes alone. It can also come from license fees or contributions from sportsbook operators. Louisiana currently has $2.6 million allocated to its Compulsive and Problem Gaming Fund through 2022. With a projected sports betting market size of $219 million, Louisiana has 1.2% of its sports betting revenue ready to treat problem gamblers.

Louisiana’s entire gaming industry produced $2.9 billion from 2020-21. Louisiana’s Compulsive and Problem Gaming Fund is less than 0.1% of that total revenue. If Louisiana wants to keep up with problem gambling, it could have to invest 10 times as much in its Problem Gaming Fund.

It also needs to do a better job of publishing regular findings of problem gambling. Louisiana’s Department of Health has done problem gambling studies in the past, but its 2011 problem gambling report is outdated. It should publish annual problem and compulsive gambling studies to identify emerging problems and make recommendations to policymakers, but that will require funding and commitment from policymakers, too. 

Louisiana’s sports betting bill doesn’t solve underfunding problem of gambling intervention or data collection. Any gaming expansion law should enshrine these remaining responsible gaming principles. It’s vital in the age of mobile gambling. 

Louisiana’s Mixed Responsible Gaming Response

Louisiana’s sports betting bill does a lot right. It requires sportsbooks to offer responsible gaming measures that bettors can use to control their gambling. The bill also puts a regulator in charge of making and enforcing industry rules. At the bare minimum, it sets a minimum age for sports betting to protect impulsive minors.  

However, Louisiana’s sports betting bill and state agencies can improve funding for potential gambling problems and conduct ongoing surveys about those potential problems. If sports betting were the only type of gambling in Louisiana, there’d be more than enough money dedicated to combatting problem gambling. However, the Compulsive and Problem Gambling Fund is underfunded for the size of Louisiana’s gambling industry. That means annual problem gambling surveys are unlikely, and publicly available reports on its prevalence, warning signs, and treatments are also unlikely. 

The igaming age requires lawmakers to embrace new responsible gaming principles. Gambling isn’t confined to a casino that bettors can avoid visiting. It’s in bettors’ pockets, and states must be mindful of how that challenges problem gamblers trying to treat themselves. Investing in problem gambling intervention is no longer a small-scale project. Louisiana should address this shortcoming in its next budget proposal and any new gambling legislation.    

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a writer tucked into the foothills in Colorado Springs. He works as a content writer, professional resume writer, and SEO professional articles in multiple industries that can be viewed from his portfolio.