There’s lots of talk about sports betting these days. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court recently legalized the practice nationwide, and Mississippi has, as usual, been more aggressive than Louisiana in pursuing this new, potentially lucrative source of income. So there’s bound to be some confusion at the polls Nov. 6 when voters get to the end of the ballot and see a question that involves sports and gambling.
But they’re not being asked to decide whether casinos and other gambling enterprises should take bets on the Saints and LSU, at least not yet. This one’s about a different type of sports-centric activity, online fantasy betting.
All fantasy betting in Louisiana for money is illegal, although this is almost never enforced. But websites that host fantasy sports betting, including competitions in which players draft their own teams for a single day and can win cash prizes, are now blocked in Louisiana. A “yes” vote is a vote to unblock them.
Like the six constitutional amendments, this question will appear on all ballots statewide. The results will be tabulated by parish, though, in accord with a 1990’s-era move to require a local option vote on all new forms of gambling.
The result could produce a confusing hodgepodge of laws, and create the possibility that participants might have to drive across parish lines to play. That’s just one of many twists. Another is that the state would still have to decide how to regulate and tax these sites, and where the proceeds would go. And the web sites that host these games would have to decide whether it’s worth their while to operate here if too many parishes opt out.
There would be yet another local option vote if the Legislature approves actual, in-person betting on real games next year, and this will likely be a big issue then.
For now— particularly for next Tuesday — it’s not.