BATON ROUGE – More than two years after voters in most communities approved fantasy sports competitions, companies can finally apply for licenses to operate the games within the state.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board published its final rules for the prize competitions, and the State Police Gambling Commission opened the application process on Friday.
According to Maj. Chuck McNeal of the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division, the approval process will take 60 to 90 days for each company. Applications must be submitted by post and as of Monday afternoon the department has not received any applications.
Part of the process for the companies will be to create virtual barriers around the 17 communities that did not vote to allow fantasy gambling.
"They will, for lack of a better word, be geofencing along parish lines whether the parishes that have opted out are blocked or the wards that have opted out are blocked," McNeal said.
Many states, like New Jersey, use this technological barrier to prohibit participation in cross-state competitions. However, applicants must demonstrate that their software works in Louisiana by state and municipality.
"You have to demonstrate that to us, and then you have to go to one of the government-approved regulatory game laboratories and also prove to them that the parishes are not allowed to play that has logged off," McNeal said. "We'll also be monitoring this regularly and making sure it's working as it should," he said
Mike Noel, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, predicts it will be late spring before fantasy sports betting websites are up and running.
"Once the state police receive applications, it will likely take a couple of months because a number of technical requirements must be met to process the applications," Noel said. "I assume it will take a few months."
Fantasy sports competitions charge an entry fee for creating a virtual list of real athletes in the hope that they will record better individual stats than other contestants' rosters in order to receive a withdrawal option. Competitions are limited to participants over the age of 21, and the 8% state tax on net gambling income will help fund early childhood education.
Voters in 47 of the 64 parishes approved betting on fantasy sports at the end of 2018. Legislators and regulators then had to set the rules and tax level before state police could invite operators to apply.
In another expansion of gambling, voters in 55 communities backed the legalization of real sports betting. But it could be 2022 when Louisiana bettors are allowed to bet on soccer and other games.
Legislators will use the spring meeting to set tax rates and plan for betting on sporting events.