Sometimes, in the very last hours and even minutes of a legislative session, things just fall apart. This year, the convoluted end of the online fantasy sports betting debate goes down as Exhibit A.
Maybe you thought the Legislature had already approved a bill allowing this form of online betting. You’re right, it did, just last year.
Maybe you also thought that voters in every parish had a subsequent say too, and you’re right again. In fact, voters in 47 parishes said at the ballot box in November that they wanted to be able to participate, or at least wanted their neighbors to be able to do so.
But there was one more step: Lawmakers had to come back and issue rules and a tax rate. State Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, took on the task. But despite all that prior support, he left the Capitol Thursday night empty-handed.
For that he can mostly thank state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, who used a procedural maneuver to try to salvage his own separate, failed bid to legalize betting on actual sporting events by attaching it to Talbot’s fantasy sports measure. My colleague Tyler Bridges published an excellent account of how different lawmakers slow-walked the process at different key points, including Talbot ally Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, and Martiny, who ran out the clock on the Senate side.
The bottom line is that the session ended without the people’s clearly expressed will getting done. According to legislative rules, the next shot lawmakers have to make fantasy betting a reality is two years from now, unless the governor decides the matter is so important that it warrants a special session.
“We’re going to look like fools,” Talbot said in an interview summing up the situation.
He’s got a point.