Ill-gotten gain: As backroom betting goes digital, states that make it legal may find the stakes are high

By Kim Henderson, WNG – January 27, 2022

At Southeastern Louisiana University, the pitcher’s mound belonging to Alumni Field lies in the shadow of the press box belonging to Strawberry Stadium. Both arenas, like most of the school, are closed off, cold. The only hint of an approaching spring semester is hurried workers, on all fours, hand-floating concrete in a new section of sidewalk along North General Pershing Street. 

As students return to the state’s third-largest public university, academic fresh starts won’t be the only opportunity coming their way. Lawmakers last summer voted to bring betting to the bayous, and mobile sports betting apps are expected to launch in Louisiana any day. Or at least in time for the Super Bowl. 

David Cranford pastors First Baptist Church in nearby Ponchatoula, and he was president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention when that group went up against powerful political operatives backing the gambling legislation. “We live in a state that is itself addicted to gambling,” he said, “and what I mean by that is the state of Louisiana is addicted to gambling revenue, and they will do anything to see gambling expand.”

So will gambling companies like FanDuel and DraftKings. They spent $1 million trying to get a foothold in Louisiana. They also hired 16 of the state’s top lobbyists to eliminate opposition. They succeeded—mostly—but the rollout has been lengthy because nine parishes opted to keep gambling out. That means online sportsbooks will have to geofence their operations to exclude those areas. The delay didn’t stop Louisiana State University from striking a deal with Caesars Sportsbook, though. Their partnership gives Caesars digital and broadcast sponsorship rights to all major LSU sports, and it represents the first of its kind in the Southeastern Conference.

To read more about online gambling’s influence in state legislatures, follow the link to the original article included below.