sports betting bills

House Ways & Means Committee Chair Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, discusses Tuesday, April 16, 2019, his legislation that would dedicate proceeds from sports betting, if it is approved, and fantasy sports operations to help fund early childhood education.

The Legislature is moving in the right direction, though not far enough, on tax rates for a new form of gaming that does not employ many, if any, Louisiana residents.

That’s fantasy sports betting, authorized in a gambling referendum that passed last year in 47 of 64 parishes.

Following up on that referendum, lawmakers have to create rules for the national companies like DraftKings and FanDuel to allow bets on their games in the parishes where voters approved it.

The problem is the tax rate in legislation advancing in the current session, which must end by June 6.

House Bill 600 received an 81-16 vote in the House Wednesday, after its authors raised the tax rate from its original and laughably low level. The bill would set a 15% tax rate on net gaming proceeds, with 10% going to state coffers for early childhood education and 5% to parish government agencies.

Worthy goals for the money, but why is the tax rate for essentially two national companies set at about half the rate for other forms of gambling?

For example, a video poker truck stop may pay up to 32 percent while providing jobs for Louisiana workers.

Fantasy sports betting isn’t going to be a huge addition to state revenues, perhaps $300,000 to $400,000, but it promises nothing in the way of spin-offs from jobs and investment in the state. A higher tax rate balances that fact.