Louisiana Guide To Legal Gambling

A Comprehensive Look At Where To Gamble In Louisiana

LouisianaLouisiana is a state best known for its food, music, and particular culture. Its Mardi Gras celebration is famous for its hedonism every February. The state’s mixture of French and Southern influences make any trip to Louisiana a unique one.

Online gambling

Louisiana is a decidedly harsh locale for any kind of online gambling. On the one hand, there’s no specific prohibition on players participating via online sites. But for any potential operators, fines and jail time can be waiting. Even amid op-eds in state publications lamenting the fact that opportunities for revenue are passing the government by, lawmakers have remained steadfast in their unwillingness to enter the online realm.

This apprehension extends to fantasy sports gambling as well. Louisiana is one of a handful of states with laws so stringent that no operator will offer players the ability to wager on sports. DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo Sports all refuse to honor play from Louisiana. This is most likely due to the threats of jail time and fines.

The bottom line is that it will take an affirmative piece of legislation to open the Pelican State to the online gambling arena. Truth be told, the numerous land-based casinos in Louisiana have a vested interest in keeping this from occurring, so it’s unlikely such legislation is coming soon.

Social casino options

All of the typical social casino options are available in Louisiana. Slotomania, Double Down, Zynga, and Big Fish are playable games through Facebook or mobile devices.

The presence of Harrah’s casinos in the state also means visitors to their branded websites have a portal to play on various social sites. However, players in Louisiana need to exercise caution with any social casino sites that carry real-world prizes, if only because the law is so stringent against operators of online casino sites. Any winnings could get tied up in court proceedings. It’s unlikely, but such an occurrence would be quite annoying to players just looking to have a good time.

State casino operator history

Louisiana’s history of land-based gambling stretches back for hundreds of years, predating the territory’s incorporation into the United States. Gambling’s presence was so widespread that at the time of Louisiana’s inclusion into the union in 1803, New Orleans offered more locations to gamble than New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore combined. This situation created a unique proposition from a legal point of view. The state government swung back and forth between allowing casinos to operate and disallowing them altogether. But the de facto status was that the casinos continued their operations irrespective of the law’s status at any given time.

Things continued in this manner for almost 200 years. The only significant change to the gambling laws was the legalization of horse racing and pari-mutuel betting in the 1920s. However, as in most states, the legislature found itself in a terrible budget shortfall. The state’s oil economy cratered in the early 1980s. The government needed a solution that would make up for the lost tax revenue.

State politicians began rumbling about bringing gambling to the Pelican State. Governor Edwin Edwards proposed allowing the state lottery to return and the construction of casinos in the New Orleans area in 1986. Initially, these efforts failed. Under Edwards’ successor, Buddy Roemer, gamblers finally found paydirt. Voters approved a constitutional amendment to readmit the lottery in 1990. The following year, the legislature allowed for 15 riverboat casinos. They also legalized the placement of video poker machines in a wide swath of commercial outlets. (This included bars, restaurants, and most notably, truck stops, which essentially opened the door for convenience stores to offer the machines).

Casino locations

Louisiana is now home to 24 casinos in a variety of styles. There are riverboats, racinos, tribal casinos, and one prominent land-based casino at the end of Canal Street in New Orleans, one block from the French Quarter. Most residents should have no problem finding their favorite game of chance within an hour’s drive. However, the casinos are clustered into three geographic areas: northwest, southeast, and southwest.

Casinos – Northwest

Northwest Louisiana’s gambling activities are centered around the twin cities of Shreveport and Bossier City. Seven casinos – six riverboats and a racino – offer nearby residents Las Vegas-style gaming options. The six riverboats are centered around the Red River, which forms the divide between Shreveport and Bossier City. Their proximity to each other has allowed the cities to create a respectable gambling district for players. This district also serves as a destination for players from Eastern and Northeastern Texas. Although the fairly recent addition of two casinos an hour away from Dallas (in Oklahoma) has slowed some of the traffic to Louisiana.

Casinos – Southwest

Southwestern Louisiana’s gambling activities are clustered in and around the city of Lake Charles. Lake Charles proper offers three large casinos to residents and visitors, with the Golden Nugget Lake Charles having opened its doors in 2014. If the Shreveport area is standing pat, Lake Charles is thriving. The aforementioned Golden Nugget has already had to add 300 extra hotel rooms to meet demand.

Delta Downs, a large racino offering million-dollar race purses, is going strong in nearby Vinton. The reason for Lake Charles’ growing profile is simple: its proximity to Houston. The Texas metropolis is two-and-a-half hours by car, and its 4 million residents have few options closer than Lake Charles.

The large town of Beaumont, Texas, also lies between the two cities on Interstate 10. It serves as an additional feeder for the Lake Charles scene. Unless Texas decides to introduce casinos, the future looks bright for Southwestern Louisiana casinos not named Isle of Capri (which was sold in 2016 amid financial woes).

Casinos – Southeast

Finally, Southeastern Louisiana’s gambling operations have two hubs: New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The two cities are less than an hour away from each other and have six casinos available between them. The most notable of these is Harrah’s New Orleans. This casino sits at the foot of Canal Street and is the only land-based casino in the state. There are also two casinos in the area, including the Amelia Belle riverboat.

The only quadrant of the state missing options is the northeast. However, there are casinos in Vicksburg, Mississippi, just across the border. So, even residents of cities like Monroe, Louisiana, can find satisfaction, should the need arise. Below is a selection of the most prominent casinos in the state.

Land-based (riverboat) casinos

Property Location Games Offered*
Harrah’s New Orleans New Orleans S, C, BJ, R, P, MBac, 3C, 4C, LR, PGP, HCF, Criss Cross Poker, 21+3
L’auberge Casino Baton Rouge Baton Rouge S, C, BJ, R, P, B, MBac, PGP, HCF, MS, 3C, THB, 21+3, Cajun Stud
L’auberge Du Lac Casino Resort and Hotel Lake Charles S, C, BJ, R, P, B, MBac, PGP, HCF, MS, 3C, 4C, THB, 21+3
Golden Nugget Lake Charles Lake Charles S, C, BJ, R, P, B, PGP, MS, UTH, LR
Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel and Casino Bossier City S, C, BJ, P, R, LR, MS, 3C
Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino Shreveport S, C, R, MBac, LR, MS, 3C

*Slots (S), Craps (C), Blackjack (BJ), Roulette (R), Baccarat (B), Poker (P), Mini-Baccarat (MBac), Pai Gow Poker (PGP), Pai Gow Tiles (PGT), Let It Ride (LR), Caribbean Stud Poker (CS), Crazy 4 Poker (C4), 3 Card Poker (3C), 4 Card Poker (4C), Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH), High Card Flush (HCF), Mississippi Stud (MS), Texas Hold’em Bonus (THB), Big Six Wheel (B6), Bingo (BI)

State legal environment

  Permitted/Offered? Notes & Restrictions
Land-Based Gambling Yes Mostly riverboats
Online Gambling No Strict prohibition on operators
Lottery Yes
Charitable or House-Based Gambling Yes Bingo and raffles
Minimum Gambling Age 18 for racetracks/pari-mutuel, 21 for casinos