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Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, shown here earlier this year during House debate, said spelling out the rules for sports betting approved by 55 parishes will be a contentious issue in the Legislature. 

The state Senate approved Thursday the second necessary bill to set up sports betting in Louisiana in time for football season.

Wednesday night the upper chamber advanced Senate Bill 247, which set up regulations and procedures, to the House. On Thursday afternoon the Senate voted 32-4 in favor of House Bill 697, which establishes the taxes and fees.

Twenty-six yes votes were needed for passage. HB697, sponsored by Crowley Republican Rep. John Stefanski, was approved by the House on a 78-24 vote on May 10.

Senators asked no questions, raised no debate and were finished in about two minutes.

The Senate has now cleared both of the measures needed for bettors to place wagers on football, basketball, baseball, and other sporting events. The House still needs to weight in and the governor will need sign the bills into law.

Bets could be placed on smart phones, at the state’s 20 casinos on riverboats, at Harrah’s land-based facility and in race tracks, as well as at kiosks set up in bars and restaurants that serve liquor.

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The Louisiana Lottery Corp. would be allowed to contract a provider to handle sports betting kiosks that would be placed in bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages. The Lottery expects to spend about $16.4 million to buy 1,000 terminals. The kiosk vendors want 40% of the net proceeds annually.

A remaining instrument, Senate Bill 142, would detail how the revenues will be divvied up between local governments and various state agencies. SB142 is still awaiting a Senate vote, but its passage is not necessary to begin sports betting, which lawmakers hope to get started in time for football season.

Under the two measures, licenses would be available to the 20 licensed casinos. The initial application fee would be $250,000 and the license fee would be $500,000 for five years. The casinos would be required to build out a section devoted to betting on sports. Each casino would receive two permits for platform providers that would handle bets on smart phones. The initial application fee would be $100,000 and permit fee of $250,000 for a term of five years.

Fees were also set for the equipment distributors and service providers that will work with the sports betting operators.

HB697 set taxes bets placed in licensed establishments at 10% and 15% on mobile phones or websites. The taxes would be on the net proceeds – the amount left over after bets are covered – paid by the casinos. The money would go into "Sports Wagering Enforcement Fund" in the state treasury.

Louisiana State Police anticipates needing to hire 19 additional people to regulate this new form of gambling, including six auditors, two compliance specialists, 10 investigators, and one staff officer, according to the legislation. Attorney General Jeff Landry wants to hire two more assistant attorney generals and an administrative assistant. The costs, which would be paid out the fee revenues, would be about $2.3 million annually.

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