Louisiana's Gaming Control Board issued its first four sports betting licenses to casinos Friday, agency Chairman Ronnie Johns confirmed to USA Today Network.
Johns said the licenses are effective Sunday for Harrah's New Orleans, L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge, Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City and Boomtown Casino in Harvey — just in time for the New Orleans Saints' big game against Tampa Bay in the Caesars Superdome.
Johns said he knows Harrah's New Orleans will open its sports betting parlor Sunday, but he isn't sure if the others will be ready to take Sunday wagers.
Louisiana's first legal sports book opened at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville earlier this month, but the Paragon is a tribal casino operated by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, so it isn't regulated by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
"This is an exciting day for the state," Johns said. "There's been tremendous interest. We've had calls every day for months asking about the timing."
Johns said he will issue more licenses as soon as he gets the OK from Louisiana State Police, which must give its approval for each applicant.
Voters in 55 of Louisiana's 64 parishes approved legalizing sports betting in their communities last fall, but lawmakers had to set up the framework to regulate and tax sports wagers during the 2021 spring Legislative Session.
The first sports betting options will be at on-site sports books, or betting parlors, in some of the state's 20 riverboat and land-based casinos and racetracks.
Johns said it will likely be early 2022 before casinos begin offering mobile online betting options.
That's the same timeline expected for bars and restaurants to secure sports betting kiosks for their customers. The Louisiana Lottery controls that segment of the industry.
"It offers the businesses another way to attract customers," Louisiana Lottery CEO Rose Hudson said in an earlier interview.
Sports betting will still be prohibited in Caldwell, Catahoula, Franklin, Jackson, LaSalle, Sabine, Union, West Carroll and Winn, the parishes where voters rejected the gaming expansion.
Geofencing technology will prevent residents within those parish borders from accessing mobile sports betting applications.