Fans of fantasy sports would be able to bet on the teams that they create under legislation passed by the Louisiana House on Tuesday.
Voters in 47 of the state’s 64 parishes legalized fantasy sports in their parishes in November, but the Legislature has to establish the rules and regulations this year. Those rules are embodied in House Bill 459, the measure approved Tuesday with no votes to spare, 70-28.
HB459, sponsored by state Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, now goes to a Senate committee for consideration.
The Legislature still must establish the state tax rate that fantasy sports companies would pay the state. FanDuel and DraftKings are the two major sports fantasy companies.
Talbot’s House Bill 600, which would establish a 10% tax rate and a $10,000 annual fee on each fantasy sports company, will be before the House on Wednesday.
In an interview, Talbot said he wants to raise the tax rate to 15% and the annual fee to $15,000 per company. That measure will require 70 votes, 2/3 of the House, because it would impose a new tax. HB600 also would require Senate approval.
Talbot’s HB459 also required 70 votes on Monday because of the penalties that it would impose on companies caught allowing underage gambling.
Before approving his bill, Talbot won approval to remove a far-reaching amendment added by the Louisiana Video Gaming Association, which represents owners of video poker machines and truck stops.
That amendment, which was added by state Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-New Orleans, before the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs, would have restricted fans of fantasy sports to playing only in 21-and-over establishments. This would have benefited bars with video poker and video poker truck stops.
Alton Ashy, who represents the industry, said he had the amendment added to try to force a discussion over making fantasy sports companies pay a higher tax rate and fall under the same rules and regulations as video poker. Video poker bars pay a 26.5 percent tax rate and truck stops pay a 32.5 percent tax rate.
But with no objection, Talbot stripped that amendment off HB459, which means that players of fantasy sports could play in any of the 47 parishes. He told his colleagues that none of the 42 states that permit fantasy sports restrict where fantasy sports can be played.
Fantasy sports players create, for an entry fee, their own rosters online and compete against other players elsewhere in the United States in a variety of professional sports. In addition to playing over an entire season, players can choose a slate of players for a single day of games in baseball or basketball or a weekend of games in football or a golf tournament. The websites can pay winners as much as $1 million in contests involving tens of thousands of players.