Louisiana senator scolds colleagues for snubbing sports bets
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Sports betting won’t be coming to Louisiana, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing it.
Sen. Danny Martiny chastised his colleagues Tuesday for spurning efforts this legislative session to legalize the activity in Louisiana.
Martiny, a Republican from Kenner, had predicted a Supreme Court ruling Monday that struck down a federal law barring every state but Nevada from allowing sports betting. He said Louisiana could stand to benefit by legalizing and taxing the betting activity. But he couldn’t convince his colleagues in the face of opposition from conservative groups and pastors who object to anything that could be considered an expansion of gambling.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Martiny had an “I-told-you-so” moment on the Senate floor.
“We’re the laughingstock of the country,” he said.
Martiny said while other states are talking about the money they’ll make from taxing the betting action, Louisiana will be left behind. He noted Louisiana has a deep budget gap looming on July 1, and he said the money from sports betting could have helped.
“Even Mississippi’s way ahead on this. So, in our quest to be No. 50 in everything, here’s another one,” Martiny said sarcastically. He added: “We can’t fund our necessary services in this state, but we’re making sure gaming doesn’t expand.”
Martiny and other lawmakers asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to allow the Louisiana Legislature to debate the legalization of sports betting in a special session that starts next week. But the Democratic governor refused.
Edwards said including that item “could complicate things greatly” in a session aimed at passing taxes to close the budget shortfall. The governor said even if lawmakers approved sports betting, that wouldn’t help the budget immediately because voters would have to decide if they want sports betting in their parishes through a referendum process and then regulations would have to be devised.
“It’s not something I’m saying no to forever,” Edwards said.
Martiny said he’ll bring the bill back next year.
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