Old Casino Laws of Louisiana Set to Be Rewritten

by Jim Hall

LouisianaThe casino laws of Louisiana are considered old and lawmakers are thinking about rewriting the current gaming laws.

In the United States, changes are taking place across the nation when it comes to gambling. Some states are considering online gaming options while others are focusing more on sports betting or daily fantasy sports. To stay relevant and in competition with neighboring states, lawmakers have to consider what changes can be made to improve upon an existing gaming industry. In the state of Louisiana, the severely outdated gaming laws may soon get an overhaul if lawmakers move forward with a rewrite as planned for the first quarter of 2018.

Rewriting Gaming Laws

Lawmakers of Louisiana are reportedly working on a plan to rewrite the old casino law early this year. Republican Senator Ronnie Johns spoke with the Associated Press and stated that he is ready to sponsor a bill to make the changes. According to Senator Johns, his bill will start a meaningful conversation regarding the casino laws involving riverboat gaming. The law is 20 years old and as the industry has changed, so should the state laws.

In speaking with the Associated Press, Senator Johns stated that lawmakers have started something that they think is manageable, a bill that has the opportunity to pass into law. The current gambling law was passed in 1991, allowing the state to open 15 riverboat casinos. The last time gaming laws were changed in the state was back in 2001 when riverboats were made to pay a higher tax rate as a trade for the boats having the ability to be docked permanently.

The Senator pointed out that the current legislation has provisions that no longer apply, and the state is one of only a select few that have casino gaming offered only in the water. If the plan by Senator Johns is passed into law, the state will see their gaming venues move from river to land. Of course, operators would then be able to provide larger spaces for gaming, which would generate more revenues for the state.

Additional Changes and Support in Place

The plan to change the casino laws in the state also might include taxes placed on promotional money used by the riverboat casinos. Currently, casinos use promotions to bring players to their venues. This would change with the new legislation.

It seems that most legislators in the state are on board with the new law changes being pushed by Senator Johns. Even the more conservative lawmakers are in approval. Ronald Jones is the former chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and part of a task force for gaming who has shown support for the law. Jones has stated that the changes need to be made in order to keep the casinos competitive with their neighbors.

Jones feels that the changes have been years in the making and the changes that can be made would be meaningful. Reinvestments can be made in the state’s economy and jobs can be created in the process.

With the changes up for discussion, it begs the question as to what else might be considered? Several states in the US are considering a number of gambling changes including online gaming and sports betting. While legislators are considering changes such as moving riverboats to land, will they also look to online gaming or sports betting? It is too soon to say, and the state will probably not look to make a drastic move when gaming venues are not even on land yet, but it could happen. We will watch see what develops in the state as legislation is introduced.