The gambling laws of Louisiana permit a few specific forms of gambling online and in the real world. Casinos on tribal land, riverboat casinos and racinos (horse tracks with slot machines) are all legal and regulated.
Online betting is restricted to parimutuel wagering on horse and greyhound events. Online poker, casino games and daily fantasy are not legal at this time.
Best Louisiana Betting Sites
In fact, Louisiana even has a 1997 law that makes “gambling by computer” a crime. The law is so broadly written that it makes no distinction between traditional gambling or any other form of gaming that involves money. The text of the law reads as follows:
“Gambling by computer is the intentional conducting, or directly assisting in the conducting as a business of any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit when accessing the Internet, World Wide Web, or any part thereof by way of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or any server.”
The punishment for committing the crime of “gambling by computer” is a fine of up to $500 and up to six months imprisonment. Nobody has to date been charged with this crime.
The outlook for online gambling and sports betting in Louisiana looks positive in the wake of lawmakers nearly legalizing DFS were it not for a lone filibuster. Bills seeking to legalize sports betting and online gambling show at least some lawmakers are interested in expanding residents’ gaming options.
Sports Betting in Louisiana
The latest push to legalize Louisiana sports betting came about in early 2019 with the introduction of SB 153. That bill aims to start the process of legalization by initiating a vote in every parish hosting a casino or racetrack and asking residents if they would like to approve sports betting.
If SB 153 becomes law and voters in a parish approve the measure, casinos and racetracks located in that parish will be authorized to apply for sports betting licenses. Once approved, those venues would be allowed to accept wagers in-person through retail sportsbooks on a range of professional and collegiate events.
SB 153 is fairly restrictive as it does not authorize mobile sports betting, but it’s a big step in the right direction for a state that has proven quite resistant to questions of gambling expansion. However, it is important to reiterate that the passage of SB 153 would not automatically approve sports betting in Louisiana. Voters in each parish would still need to voice their approval.
Past Efforts to Legalize LA Sports Betting
Louisiana entered the sports betting fray in March of 2018 with the introduction of a bill introduced by Representative Major Thibaut. HB 245 proposed legalizing sports betting at four live horse racing facilities: the Fair Grounds, Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs.
Thibaut’s bill also called for a referendum in each of the parishes in which sports betting would take place, as required by the Louisiana Constitution for any expansion of gambling. If the voters of each parish approve, race courses in all four parishes would be free to begin taking wagers on all manner of sports.
Interestingly, the bill’s text did not mention the federal sports betting prohibition. Similar bills that were introduced in other states around the same time in early 2018 prefaced all proposals with a bit of text to the effect of “this bill only takes effect if the state determines sports betting is no longer prohibited at the federal level.”
There’s a fair chance Louisiana does indeed legalize sports betting at some point. This is already a fairly gambling-friendly state with a population that is already accustomed to gambling being a widely available thing. Louisiana also made Eilers & Krejcik’s list of the 32 states most likely to legalize sports betting within five years of the federal sports wagering ban being removed.
The November 2018 vote to legalize daily fantasy sports in most Louisiana parishes has also given the effort some much-needed momentum heading into future legislative sessions. After the majority of parishes easily passed the measure to make daily fantasy legal, it is clear attitudes in the state are softening when it comes to any activity that mixes sports with gaming.
Horse Racing Betting Sites in Louisiana
In-person and online racing betting are both legal under Louisiana law. The Louisiana Racing Commission oversees four racetracks, numerous off-track betting facilities and the conduct of parimutuel wagering across the state.
Legal Racing Betting Sites in Louisiana
A handful of US-based racing betting sites offer their services in Louisiana for customers 18 and older. Each of these sites is headquartered in the United States and adheres to federal gaming laws to offer customers a legal, safe experience.
Other than the obvious advantage of convenience, online horse betting provides the advantage of track selection. Each of these sites covers hundreds of racetracks around the world. You can bet on quarter horses, thoroughbreds, harness races and even greyhounds in the case of BetAmerica. You get paid full track odds and can take comfort from the fact that you’re doing business with companies located on US soil.
Racetracks in Louisiana
Louisiana is home to four racetracks with attached casinos that are collectively referred to as racinos.
Louisiana OTB Locations
Off-track betting facilities (OTBs) are legal and licensed in Louisiana. Each OTB is associated with a specific racetrack and the Louisiana Racing Commission maintains an up-to-date list of OTBs here.
- Metairie Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Houma Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Kenner Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Covington Fair Grounds OTB
- Gretna Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Elmwood Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- LaPlace Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Thibodaux Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Chalmette Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Boutte Fair Grounds OTB
- Westwego Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Destrehan Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Meraux Fair Grounds OTB Casino
- Races & Aces Henderson
- Races & Aces Eunice
- Races & Aces St. Martinville
- Louisiana Downs OTB
Online Casinos and Poker
Online poker is currently outlawed in Louisiana but there are several small indications that this may not be the case forever. It’s always hard to make political predictions that far in advance, but what I will say is the state’s overall attitude is conducive to getting something done.
First of all, the state embraces land-based gambling. This is evidenced by the existence of numerous horse racing tracks with slots, tribal casinos and riverboat casinos. Additionally, a representative of the Louisiana Gaming Control board recently said the board has no opinion either way on online gambling. This is far from a glowing endorsement of online gaming, but it is very helpful whenever a state’s gaming control board takes no position.
In 2013, State Representative Mike Huval filed HCR3 to request the state study the potential impact of legalizing and regulating gaming. In the bill, Huval acknowledge that citizens are already placing bets online with offshore providers. With people playing without safeguards and the state missing out on potential tax revenue, he wanted to see if licensing online casinos and poker sites could make it safer for the players while simultaneously raising revenue for the state.
The bill sought to obtain input from the governor, gaming control board and state police gaming division. State police and the gaming commission responded saying that regulation presented a number of challenges and issues worth considering. They also concluded that if the state did pursue regulation, it would need to figure a way to detect violations of gaming law, set up a system to ensure regulatory compliance and implement safeguards for gaming addicts and underage gamblers.
A new effort to legalize online gambling materialized in 2018 with a bill called SB 322 seeking to legalize online gambling at the parish level by calling for every parish in Louisiana to hold a public referendum asking voters whether or not they approve of online gambling.
SB 322 was more of a placeholder than anything at this point in time as it was quite short on details. Besides calling for parish-by-parish referendums, the bill called for a minimum age of 21 to play, licenses to be issued to existing casinos and for the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to oversee the industry. SB 322 was eventually shelved by lawmakers before progressing very far.
Fantasy Sports Sites
Louisiana voters approved fantasy sports in 47 of 64 parishes with a referendum measure that appeared on the November 2018 ballot. All the state’s major population centers approved the measure as well to potentially make daily fantasy sports legal for more than 90% of Louisiana residents.
Nothing changed on the ground for sports fans immediately because the referendum only paved the way for lawmakers to introduce legislation authorizing and taxing daily fantasy sports in the parishes that approved the proposal.
Sadly, lawmakers dropped the ball in a big way during the 2019 legislative session. A fantasy sports bill actually came very close to passing, but Sen. Danny Martiny filibustered the bill at the last minute after House members removed amendments form the bill that would have also authorized sports betting.
“I don’t think this is the way you do business,” said Martiny.” I don’t like the way that I was treated. I would feel the same way if any of my colleagues were treated this way.”
This set back daily fantasy legislation by at least two years in Louisiana. Voters clearly want access to licensed and regulated fantasy sports, but lawmakers have failed to implement the will of the people. Daily fantasy contests remain prohibited in Louisiana at this time.
If the law does change, FanDuel (read more) and DraftKings (read more) will almost certainly be the first fantasy sites to enter the Louisiana market once all regulations are in place. Both sites contributed to the campaign that sought to convince residents to approve the measure and both have the technology in place to ensure they block residents from the 17 parishes that voted no.
Which Louisiana Parishes Voted to Allow Fantasy Sports?
Most of Louisiana’s populous parishes opted to legalize daily fantasy sports during the November 2018 election. According to some reports, 92% of Louisianans live in parishes that opted in.
The state legislature failed the follow the referendum with legislation to legalize DFS, so all fantasy sites remain prohibited across the board – even in parishes that voted yes.
For posterity’s sake, here’s a look at the parishes that voted yes and those that voted no.
Parishes that voted in favor of DFS
|Claiborne||Concordia||De Soto||East Baton Rouge|
|East Carroll||East Feliciana||Evangeline||Iberia|
|Rapides||Red River||St. Bernard||St. Charles|
|St. Helena||St. James||St. John the Baptist||St. Landry|
|St. Martin||St. Mary||St. Tammany||Tangipahoa|
|Webster||West Baton Rouge||West Feliciana|
Parishes that voted against DFS: