The state of Louisiana may be well known for its Mardi Gras celebrations and party friendly atmosphere, but there is nothing friendly about the state's laws against gambling. Louisiana is one of the few states in the United States that has specific anti-internet gambling laws listed in its constitution, making it one of the worst states for a sports gambler to live in across the country.
But for other types of gamblers, Louisiana offers plenty of action. Riverboat and tribal casinos give residents and visitors of the state access to casino-style gaming and horse racing is still popular in the state as well.
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Gaming Laws in Louisiana
From the 1920's up until 1991, the only form of legal gambling in the state of Louisiana was parimutuel betting on horses. Everything changed in 1991 when a state lottery was approved and 15 riverboat casinos were approved. Two years later, Louisiana ironed out compacts with Native American tribes residing in the state to allow them to open casinos on their lands.
Online Gambling Laws
In 1997, Louisiana became one of the few states in the United States to explicitly ban online gambling. The penalty for running a website designed to accept money and take bets in the state is a fine of up to $20,000 and up to five years in prison.
But what makes matters even worse is the fact that Louisiana not only has laws in place to punish bookmaking online, but also to punish placing wagers online. “Whoever commits the crime of gambling by computer shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.”
With this law on the books, there is no haziness as to whether or not online gambling in Louisiana is illegal, as it clearly is.
Sports Betting in Louisiana
Bettors are allowed to bet on horse racing and even billiards, which is classified by the state of Louisiana to be a skill game. But when it comes to sports, betting is illegal. While sports aren't specifically mentioned in Louisiana's gaming laws, the state's definition of illegal gambling is an action “whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit”. This would clearly include sports gambling as well.
A mentioned above, betting online is strictly illegal in the state of Louisiana. Offshore sportsbooks do not fall under the jurisdiction of United States state or federal laws, so many of them will still offer sports betting to Louisiana residents that decide to take the plunge.
Sports bettors in Louisiana are stuck between a rock and a hard place. With no legal land-based options available to them, their only legitimate option for betting on sports is to do so online; but in doing so they most knowingly break the law. This is not a commonly enforced law, but it is still in place. Bettors must understand the penalties that come with being caught and weigh that risk before placing bets online.
Poker and Casino in Louisiana
Harrah's New Orleans stands as the one land-based casino in the state of Louisiana. Opened in 1999, the casino was renovated in 2006 and offers table games, slot machines, and a poker room with 20 tables to Louisiana residents and visitors.
Louisiana also has tribal casinos, riverboat casinos and “racinos”. Racinos are horse racing tracks that also include casino gambling. These casinos are limited to only slot machines and electronic games. Tribal casinos and riverboat casinos, like Harrah's New Orleans, offer slot machines as well as popular table games. The Coushatta Casino matches Harrah's for the biggest poker room in the state with 20 tables.
Live poker in the state of Louisiana isn't ideal as the poker rooms are relatively small and aren't going to offer the variety of games or stakes that online poker does. But at least live poker is a legal alternative for poker players who don't want to break the state's online gambling law; sports bettors don't have any legal alternatives.
Many offshore poker rooms will still take action from Louisiana players despite online poker being illegal in the state. Poker players must decide for themselves if it is worth the risk.
Other Gaming Options in Louisiana
Louisiana has three active horse racing tracks in the Delta Downs, Evangeline Downs and the Fair Grounds Race Course. Having opened back in 1852, Fair Grounds is the third oldest race meet in the United States behind only Saratoga and Pimlico. These tracks offer both live racing and simulcast wagering.
From 1866 to 1895, Louisiana had a state lottery that was littered with corruption and legal battles. After nearly 100 years without a lottery, Louisiana started up the Louisiana Lottery Corporation in 1991. The lotto offers in-state draw games, multi-state draw games like the Mega Millions and Powerball, and scratch-off tickets.
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