One of the items on every Louisiana voter's ballot this fall is a proposition that would allow sports betting.
Voters in each parish will decide the measure, meaning sports betting would be allowed just as video poker is allowed, on a by-parish basis, not statewide.
The measure is on the ballot because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law in 2018 that outlawed sports betting in all but four states. That law violated states' rights, the court decided. Since that time, sports betting has become legal in 23 states, with another 10 moving toward legalization with pending propositions or bills.
The Louisiana prop, if passed by at least one parish, would authorize the legislature to begin setting up a structure for sports betting. That would include the way it would operate, how it would be taxed and oversight. Currently, gambling (or "gaming" as it generally is called in Louisiana law) is overseen by a division of Louisiana State Police.
Here's the link to the PAR guide, which includes bias-free information about all the Constitutional Amendments and this proposition. The guide, which is prepared for every state election, provides basic facts about each item, then includes pro and con arguments from those who support and oppose the item. The information about this proposition starts on page 20.
We've spoken with opponents of the prop; you can see that story here.
Today we're speaking with Richard Carbo, who represents Louisiana Wins, a non-profit formed to support the proposition.
According to Carbo, legalizing sports betting could bring back millions in tax income that's currently going to Arkansas and Mississippi - two neighboring states which have legalized it. Carbo's group quotes a study that estimates more than $300 million in tax income from Louisiana residents is being enjoyed by those two states.
"Right now, we're trying to recover from a pandemic, and those are tax dollars that could be used for a lot of priorities in Louisiana," Carbo says.
Carbo's group, which intends to be involved during any legislative process that follows the vote, argues that tax income from sports betting could be used for priorities like education and infrastructure. Because there already is an oversight structure in place for video poker, which also is by-parish, there's something to build on, he adds.
"The gambling industry in Louisiana is very heavily regulated. We can do this in a very responsible way," Carbo says. "Each parish can decide on their own, and we can start to bring the revenue back to Louisiana that we badly need."
Carbo said his group is focused now on educating voters and supporting the proposition, but after the election the focus will shift to making sure a structure is created that is "workable for both sides and responsible," and to ensure that the revenue is allocated to priorities identified by voters and legislators.
To see what is on your ballot, click here.