CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Before Louisiana residents cast their ballots in the General Election — voters will decide whether or not to legalize sports betting in their parish.
So, what does this really mean, and how does it affect you?
Sports betting is illegal in Louisiana, but the activity is permitted in other Gulf Coast states, such as Mississippi.
Lawmakers who are proponents of legalizing the activity argue residents are leaving the state — along with their money — and betting on sports in other states. Experts believe around $50 million in tax revenue could be generated in the state by legalizing sports betting.
When asked, Caddo Parish voters were most were either ‘for’ the item, or simply, were indifferent all together.
“It’s just another means of revenue the state can use,” said Dion Jones. “I think it adds more dollars to the community...to help with different programs and things like that.”
“I personally don’t do it, I’m not a gambling man,” said Gary Brown. “I don’t have a problem with it, those that gamble are going to gamble, whether they do it here or someplace else.”
Those opposed argue further expanding gaming across the Bayou State could ultimately result in a higher volume of people becoming addicted to gambling.
Janet Miller, the executive director of the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling (LACG), said her organization remains “neutral” on expanding gaming. However, she urges lawmakers to ensure non-profits working with those who become addicted continue to receive steady financial backing.
“If we want entertainment, if we want more gambling, then let’s also add money to help these people that may develop a problem with it,” she explained. “Our stance is we want to help people who have a problem.”
Miller explained LACG has helped thousands upon thousands of people across the state since its founding in 1994. If sports betting is approved in parishes throughout Louisiana, Miller wants the community to know free help is available.
“Let’s have a conversation about gambling, let’s talk about it, let’s be honest about it; many people gamble, which is not a problem,” she said. “The face of addiction for a problem gambler does not look like any other problem because you cannot see it with the naked eye, you cannot smell cards on the breath.”
Even if sports betting is expanded across the state, it would not be permitted until lawmakers decide on rules and regulations. New taxing mechanisms can also be established during the odd-number years, so the earliest it could be permitted is 2021.
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, call (877) 770-7867.