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A bill that would legalize online gambling has appeared in the state of Louisiana.
Unlike online gambling legislation introduced in other states, the Louisiana bill, S 322, would legalize online gaming on a parish-by-parish basis via a voter referendum. All new forms of gaming in Louisiana need to pass a referendum vote.
Each parish in the state would figure out if they want to place the online gaming referendum on the ballot. The measure would require a majority vote.
Voters would answer a simple question:
“Shall internet gaming be allowed to be conducted within the parish of ______?”
The soonest Louisianans would be able to play online poker would be nearly two years away, as the bill reads, “Section 2 of this Act shall become effective on January 1, 2020.”
It seems like a long time. But a referendum wouldn’t take place until November of this year. That makes 2020 — just over a year after the vote — a viable timeline for the launch of online gambling.
A similar bill dealing with sports betting surfaced recently.
Other than the path to legalization, the Louisiana bill resembles online gambling bills from other states.
At barely four pages, the bill is far from a finished product.
S 322 offers no information on taxation rates or licensing fees. It reads more like a conversation starter — a way to get the legislature discussing the topic in hearings and behind closed doors.
The bill also stops short of authorizing specific forms of online gambling. It does mention peer-to-peer gaming tournaments.
According to the bill:
“internet gaming” shall mean any variation or composite of an authorized game that is offered through the internet, provided that such games, or variations or composites, are found suitable for use by the board and any other game which is determined to be suitable by the board. The term includes gaming tournaments conducted via the internet in which players compete against one another in one or more games authorized by the board or in approved variations or composites thereof if the tournament is authorized by the board.
Basically, the Louisiana bill tells us what the state wants to do. But it doesn’t explain precisely how lawmakers and regulators are going to do it.