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How Louisiana’s Parishes Created a Unique Online Sports Betting Situation

Residents of Louisiana had the opportunity to vote for or against the legalization of sports betting in 2020. However, it wasn’t the usual statewide ballot, which had an interesting outcome. 

Louisiana’s Unique Online Sports Betting Situation

Residents of Louisiana are ecstatic that online sports betting is finally available in the Bayou State, and rightly so. There are now six major online sportsbooks offering their services in Louisiana, including DraftKings Sportsbook, Caesars Sportsbook, Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, BetRivers Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook. That’s quite a spread!

However, what makes Louisiana’s situation regarding the legalization of online sports betting so interesting is that we say “online sports betting in Louisiana is legal” when, in fact, it is not allowed everywhere in the Bayou State.

There are, in fact, several areas or parishes where online sports betting is not deemed legal, and if you reside in one of these parishes, you need to travel to one where online sports betting is permitted to get in on the sports betting fun.

But, how does this work, and why isn’t there any other state with specific areas or, in this case, parishes that had their say about legalizing online sports betting?

This has to do with the way voting took place in Louisiana, which takes us even further back into Louisiana’s unique history that shaped much of its legal system.

Voting by Parish

The Pelican State formally legalized Louisiana sports betting sites in June 2021. However, before Governor John Bel Edwards formally signed Senate Bill 247 (SB 247), voters were required to vote for or against the legalization of online sports betting in the 2020 election — parish-by-parish.

On November 3, 2020, the outcome indicated that the majority, which is 56 out of the 64 Louisiana parishes, voted pro online sports betting legalization. This voting structure directly impacted where residents in the Bayou State are allowed to wager online, even though online sports betting is deemed legal in the state.

Louisiana was the first state to allow its parishes to each make their own decision about what happens in their communities, giving them a stronger voice in a reasonably large state.

Ultimately, legal gambling news from Louisiana announced that eight parishes had refused to approve legal sports betting, namely: Caldwell, Catahoula, Franklin, LaSalle, Sabine, Union, West Carroll, and Winn.

The question remains: Why are Louisiana and some of its legislative and legal components so different from the other US States? The answer lies in its history, of which cultural remnants are still evident in this unique state.

A Brief History of Louisiana and Where Parishes Came From

While other states have counties, Louisiana has parishes. The reason goes back to when Louisiana was officially Roman Catholic and ruled by Spain and France in the 1800s. During this time, these borders or boundaries were linked with the borders of church parishes, and the word “parish” eventually became part of Louisiana’s legislature.

Since then, the state of Louisiana has changed in many ways through the modernization of time. However, during the process, the state never let go of these initial civil divisions named parishes as part of the process.

Another interesting component that makes Louisiana different from other states is how these parishes are governed. Thirty-eight parishes are governed by police juries, while the remaining ones are governed under a home rule charter.

As you can imagine, this makes things quite different from other states when it comes to voting and imposing new legislation, especially if it is not done on a state-wide basis.

The Takeaway

Since abolishing Roman Catholic rule in Louisiana, parishes have been added and boundaries effectively defined. This is one of the most interesting historical tidbits that make Louisiana so unique. It revealed itself once again when the State decided to legalize online sports betting.

As unique as the state itself is, so are the solutions that come from the parish-based territory. Sports bettors that live in no-go sports betting parishes are not forbidden to wager — all they need to do is go on a road trip to visit New Orleans or Baton Rouge and have a ball!

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