Off-track betting parlors are eligible to get hundreds of a new type of slot-like machine under legislation that won final passage Tuesday and now goes to the governor for his consideration.
State Sen. Gary Smith said Senate Bill 209 will generate new revenue to help the state’s horse racing industry.
“It’s going to increase the purses,” Smith, D-Norco, said during brief remarks in asking the Senate to approve the bill.
The vote was 32-3.
The House had passed the bill 84-11 on Monday.
The legislation will lead to an expansion of gambling machines known as historical horse racing at the OTBs. It’s not clear yet whether they will generate more money for the state.
The new machines permit players to bet on past races by getting the odds for the different horses but without knowing when or where the race took place. Or, as many players do, they can simply have the machine pick a horse and hope it comes up a winner.
The players’ losses will fund higher purses, which supporters say will attract better horses and more betting.
The betting at the track and at the OTBs is known as pari-mutuel wagering. At a casino, the player bets against the house. In pari-mutuel wagering, players bet against other players, and the size of the pot depends on how much everyone bets.
At OTBs now, bettors can play on video poker machines or bet on various horse races around the country. The OTBs exist to allow betting on horse racing when it’s not taking place during its limited Louisiana schedule.
Under SB209, each OTB is limited to 50 historic horse racing machines, and they have to win the approval of parish voters to open OTBs in parishes that haven’t previously approved the facilities.
State Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, pushed lawmakers to consider adding the historical horse racing machines. His next-door neighbor and former legislative colleague, Joel Robideaux, is registered as a lobbyist for ELS Gaming, which has provided the machines in other states.
The New Orleans Fairgrounds operates 13 OTBs within a 55-mile radius. Louisiana’s three other tracks – Delta Downs in Vinton, Evangeline Downs in Opelousas and Louisiana Downs in Bossier City – are allowed to have up to five OTBs apiece but operate only three among them.