Gambling regulators in Louisiana this week discussed new rules that would allow riverboat casinos to move onto land. The head of the state’s Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Jones, said that the rules could be ready as early as the end of this year; however, he stressed that local economic development was one of the goals of the new law and therefore, the casinos would need to make new improvements to their operations before moving onshore.
According to Jones, three of the 15 riverboats that operate in Louisiana have already expressed interest in relocating onshore – The Belle, the Treasure Chest and another unnamed operator.
No threshold has been set for how much improvement needs to be done to a property before it can move onshore, and Jones said that the regulator would be looking “at each property separately, based on where it is located.”
There is pressure on Louisiana to bring about changes to its gambling industry, following a change in federal sports betting laws and growing competition from neighboring Mississippi casinos. While a sports book bill failed to pass through Louisiana’s legislature earlier this year, at least four casinos in Mississippi have started taking sports wager, following the Supreme Court’s ruling that made way for states to adopt sports betting.
Jones said that the state “already loses a lot of business to Mississippi.”
“We’re completely disadvantaged,” said the chief, referring to the fact that players aren’t taxed in Mississippi on hotel rooms, “and this sports book is just a pile on.”
There is not much hope that Louisiana will change its sports betting laws soon, and certainly the issue won’t be taken up before next year. However, Jones believes that the regulator will be able to feel which way the winds are blowing after the results of the local referendums in November. One of the things that voters will be asked is to give their yay or nay on daily fantasy sports wagering in Louisiana. Each parish will have the right to accept or reject fantasy sports wagering. If a parish opts out, the regulator will be tasked with setting up geo-fencing technology to keep residents of that parish out of sites such as Fan Duel and DraftKings.
“It will be interesting to see the vote on fantasy football,” said Jones.