NEW ORLEANS — For the first time in Louisiana state history, you can now legally bet on sports at public land casinos. In total, four Louisiana casinos started taking sports bets -- Harrah’s in New Orleans, Boomtown Casino in Harvey, L’Auberge Baton Rouge, and Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City.
Back in November 20-20, sports betting was approved by voters in 55 of Louisiana's 64 parishes, but it wasn't signed into law until June 20-21. Since then, the state police have been reviewing applications from casinos.
“It just seems like we have been waiting forever,” said Jason Kelly, the first person in line to place a sports bet at Harrah’s New Orleans Sunday. “We are just so excited we are finally here.”
At Harrah’s, there is a designated area in the casino where sports gambling is taking place. It's called the 'sports book'. You can bet on any number of games: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, you name it.
"Right now, we have in person betting windows. Hopefully by next weekend we will have a whole bunch of kiosks, over a dozen of them," said Samir Moward, general manager at Harrah's Casino.
Mowad says the opening of the sports book isn't just good news for sports fans but for the local economy as well, citing a new taxable revenue stream and a busier casino which means they can hire more people.
"There is definitely a trickle-down effect, in addition to the direct revenue from the sports bets," said Mowad.
Placing the first bet for the charity Second Harvest Food Bank was former New Orleans Saints quarterback, Bobby Hebert. He says, like fantasy football, sports betting could generate more interest in the world of sports.
“If you have a little wage, a little coin in the game… you might not have your favorite team playing but you will be interested in it,” said Hebert. “I know the NFL loves it, it's going to be good for Louisiana revenue and all that's going to come in.”
For now, betting on sports through apps on your phone is not allowed but that is likely to change in the near future.
While Harrah's was the first to allow sports betting on a public land casino, the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville has been taking sports bets since Oct. 6. but that is because the property is owned by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and is not regulated by the state.