Louisiana Online Gambling

gambling online louisiana

Louisiana is a state best known for its food, music and particular culture. But it has a rich gambling culture as well. Louisiana’s gambling history stretches back for hundreds of years and predates the territory’s incorporation into the United States. Gambling was so widespread that, when the US purchased the territory in 1803, New Orleans offered more locations to gamble than New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore combined.

After statehood, however, Louisiana shifted back and forth on the question of legality. For the most part of the last century, gambling and online gambling in Louisiana has been illegal except in specific places and instances. However, with sports betting set to make an appearance in the Pelican State in the near future, it’s a good idea to take stock of what gambling is available there.

If you’re looking for information about Louisiana online gambling, you’ve come to the right place. This page has news, information and updates about all things gambling in Sportsman’s Paradise. Best of all, as online gambling blooms in the state (presumably), we will provide access to a variety of bonus offers. So, for now, bookmark this page and read on for what’s going on in the state.

Latest news

Last updated: June 8, 2021

Voters of Tammany Parish will decide in October if a new casino will be allowed to be built in Slidell. House Bill 702 passed by a 23-14 vote despite fervent opposition from a lobby coalition of conservative Christians and representatives of Boyd Gaming and Penn National Gaming.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, so far a gambling advocate, would have to sign the bill into law if voters approve the casino.

Voter approval would clear the way for Peninsula Pacific Entertainment to develop a parcel of land at Exit 261 near Lake Pontchartrain. The company wants to relocate a dormant riverboat license to the facility after closing its DiamondJacks casino in Dossier City last year. The company laid off 400 workers in the move. Louisiana allocates 15 riverboat licenses, which can be applied to land-based facilites.

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Can you gamble online in Louisiana?

At the moment, no. Louisiana has made a mess of legalizing online gambling so far. Regarding bringing online games of chance to the state, things are much more complicated than usual. Amazingly, of all things, the problems began due to daily fantasy sports.

In an attempt to allow each parish to retain autonomy, Louisiana’s 2018 DFS law (HB 357) required each parish to vote individually on whether to allow DFS to proceed inside its borders. Unsurprisingly, not every parish approved the concept — 17 of the 64 parishes voted the measure down. So, before companies like DraftKings and FanDuel can begin to operate in Louisiana, they have to be able to demonstrate that they can exclude players from those 17 parishes from participating. To say the least, it will be a test for geolocation verification software.

DFS has also been delayed by Louisiana’s unusual approach to taxation, since the state government is not inclined to allow games to proceed without a promise of its cut of the money. According to state law, tax bills can only be discussed during odd years AND they must receive a two-thirds vote to pass. Now, thanks to COVID-19, the state government made an exception in 2020 and voted to tax DFS at an 8% rate. Regulators began accepting applications for DFS companies in February 2021, so it (hopefully) won’t be long before Louisianans can play.

However, this three-year saga over what is a rather small portion of the online gambling landscape should serve as a warning for Louisiana residents and visitors expecting a quick turnaround on online sports betting or (in theory) online casinos and poker. Even though more parishes approved land-based sports betting (55 of 64), there is still no firm commitment on when retail sports betting will launch in the Pelican State, much less online sports betting. So, by and large, it is correct to say that online gambling does not exist in Louisiana in any meaningful form.

Now, one of the only exceptions that you may consider would be sweepstakes sites. Sweepstakes sites offer the opportunity to play games for real money prizes without investing any of your own money. The nice thing is that there are several companies that offer casino-like games under this format, so you have some options through your computer or mobile device.

The other exception to the ban on online gambling in Louisiana is horse betting. Louisianans are able to wager on simulcast races through their computers and mobile devices at their leisure. Although there are several sites to choose from, your best bet is with TVG. TVG, in addition to being a comprehensive horse betting site, is a full-service broadcast network dedicated exclusively to horse racing. You can pick up tips for improving your results 24 hours a day. If you want to bet on the ponies without leaving your house, consider TVG.

Are online casinos legal in Louisiana?

No. Louisiana is one of the few states in the country to criminalize online gambling explicitly, and outside of the exceptions mentioned above for DFS and sports betting, you are absolutely forbidden from gambling by computer in the state. There’s even a three-strike element to the law, where a third offense brands the offender a felon for gambling on a computer. So, under no circumstances should you try to play at an online casino in the Pelican State.

It also doesn’t appear that online casinos are particularly imminent in Louisiana. Even if we set aside the previously mentioned legislative morass in the state, lawmakers appear far more focused on developing sports betting in the state. The last major push to bring online casinos to Louisiana occurred in 2018, and that bill died in committee so that legislators could focus their efforts on sports betting.

The good news is that sweepstakes casinos are a legal option. Top sweepstakes sites include Chumba Casino, Global Poker and Funzpoints. These sites use a dual-currency system as a way to provide separation between the paid-but-not-for-withdrawal side of the business and the free-but-available-for-withdrawal side.

Chumba is probably the purest casino-type site of the three, with hundreds of slot titles and a selection of blackjack, roulette and video poker available. Global Poker, obviously, focuses its efforts on poker. However, the site has a surprisingly diverse section of casino games, with slots, blackjack, roulette and a form of Caribbean stud available. Funzpoints is primarily a slots site, but there are some options to play keno-style games, as well.

Other than that, it’s a waiting game for online casinos in Louisiana. Given the severity of the legal situation, you really shouldn’t play with fire on this issue. It’s just not worth it.

Does Louisiana have legal online sportsbooks?

No. There are no legal online sportsbooks in Louisiana at this time, and it’s hard to say when they will arrive.

Can you play online poker in Louisiana?

No, and we ask that you do not try. As is the case with online casinos, Louisiana has one of the most restrictive laws in the nation regarding online poker. Playing on an online poker site is actually a crime in the Pelican State, and repeated offenses can even bump it up to felony status. Be wary of any site that says online poker play from Louisiana is legal or that you should do it. It. Is. Not.

Furthermore, online poker is probably unlikely to make an appearance in Louisiana anytime soon. In almost every case, no matter where they occur, gambling expansions are driven by an effort to increase tax revenue. Since online poker is the least profitable of the three major types of online gambling (the others being casinos and sports betting), it is usually the last to become legal, if at all. Many times, poker will simply be tacked onto the legalization of online casinos. Since Louisiana is not particularly close to bringing casinos online, there is even less hope for online poker.

As we mentioned, however, there are several sweepstakes sites that do conform with Louisiana law. One of them is Global Poker. Global offers real-time games to players across the US, including in Louisiana. Games are available for real money, and you don’t have to spend anything to play. You can find No Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, and a hold’em variant called Crazy Pineapple. There are cash games, tournaments, and sit and go’s that run every single day, so if you really need an online poker option, Global is a pretty good substitute.

Will Louisiana regulate online gambling in the future?

Possibly. It is certainly true that there is much more momentum behind sports betting in Louisiana than other forms of online gambling. However, mobile sports betting in Louisiana is a decidedly separate issue for lawmakers and voters alike compared to online casinos and poker sites.

There is still reason to hope that Louisiana will turn things around. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites

If there is a silver lining about the extreme nature of Louisiana’s law prohibiting online gambling, it’s that you don’t have to wonder if a site is legal or not. It’s not, and don’t trust any site that says otherwise.

However, it’s possible that you might encounter a site that seems legitimate and sure of itself. Or, you might not be troubled by the legal risk. So, let’s discuss the more practical reasons why you should avoid any website that claims to allow legal online gambling from Louisiana.

Sites that offer online gambling to Louisianans will be based outside of the US. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with other countries, their location puts you in an awkward position. US and Louisiana laws only cover their own jurisdictions, and foreign sites are not bound to follow any of the standards we typically expect of American companies. While some Americans may play on these sites without incident, you truly have no way to verify that they are actual sites and not elaborate scams or Ponzi schemes. Even if they advertise the presence of a regulator, you often have no idea if the regulator has any kind of enforcement power. Heck, the regulator might even work for the same company.

Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. Even if you do trust that the sites are not criminal, they might still be unacceptably incompetent. Remember — online gambling sites require that you submit your personal and banking information before you play. The site could have the best intentions, but it may not have the best security against hacking or other outside interference. Your presence there could expose you to identity theft or outright stealing, and you could have the exact same problem trying to find a regulator or government agency to help.

The best thing to do is stick to the sweepstakes sites mentioned above or don’t play online at all, especially with the presence of decent live options in Louisiana. Having to drive to your local casino is far more palatable than losing money or your personal data overseas.

Who regulates online gambling in Louisiana?

Obviously, there’s no need for a regulator if there’s nothing to regulate. However, with DFS coming online in Louisiana sometime in the next year or so, it’s a good idea to know who is in charge. The answer is definitively the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

The LGCB maintains authority over most of the types of gambling in the Pelican State, and there’s no reason to assume that online gambling won’t fall under the agency’s regulatory umbrella. The only type of gambling in Louisiana that the LGCB does not monitor is horse racing. The Louisiana Racing Commission is the regulator for that activity, but there’s little reason to assume that the LRC would be in charge of other types of gambling.

What is the legal gambling age in Louisiana?

Most of the time, the legal gambling age in Louisiana is 21. You must be 21 or older to visit any of the state’s casinos or video poker lounges. However, 18-year-olds are permitted to play the lottery, bet on horse races, or play certain charitable games.

Types of legal gambling in Louisiana

Outside of the confusing state of online gambling, gambling in Louisiana stretches back hundreds of years. History has recorded the government attempting to legislate gambling in the territory since at least 1727. In that year, St. Louis Church opened in New Orleans to much less fanfare than the powers that be expected. Apparently, many of New Orleans’ denizens were too busy gambling to give the Lord the proper due.

Unsurprisingly, this development chafed lawmakers at the time, who began passing laws to limit and/or ban gambling in the area. So frenzied and ingrained was Louisiana’s desire to gamble that the efforts to prohibit it lasted only until 1753. Then-Gov. Louis Billouart de Kerlérec conceded gambling’s resilience and reversed course, preferring to open a government-run casino. It is fair to say that legal gambling in Louisiana predates Louisiana’s statehood and, for that matter, the United States itself.

In the centuries since, other reformers have passed legislation to ban and allow gambling. There has been a definite back and forth, undoubtedly due to shifting public opinions and morals. However, legal gambling has only existed in its current incarnation in Louisiana since the early 1990s.

Here are all the current types of legal gambling available to residents and visitors of the Pelican State:

  • Casino gambling
  • Video poker
  • Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing
  • Lottery
  • Charitable gaming
  • Home poker games

As you’ll soon see, the list sells the different options for legal gambling in Louisiana quite short. Louisianans are not suffering from a dearth of alternatives to play games of chance near their homes.

The only item on the list that might give you pause is video poker. It might seem curious that this game is specifically separate from casino gambling. Well, as it turns out, Louisiana has video poker-only lounges scattered throughout the state, so it is not correct simply to lump them in with the other casinos in the Pelican State. They are an entirely separate entity.

Are there casinos in Louisiana?

Yes. There are nearly two dozen live casinos active in Louisiana. The majority of them are riverboat casinos, which (thankfully) are no longer required to sail around on the water to be able to offer gambling. Louisiana is also home to four tribal casinos on reservation lands around the state. Finally, and, perhaps oddly, there is a lone land-based casino in New Orleans. Here is a list of all the casinos in Sportsman’s Paradise:

NameAddressPhone NumberTypeOwner/TribeLive Poker? (Y/N)
Amelia Belle Casino500 Lake Palourde Rd, Amelia, LA 70340(985) 631-1777RiverboatBoyd GamingN
Belle of Baton Rouge Casino Hotel103 France St, Baton Rouge, LA 70802(225) 242-2600RiverboatCaesars EntertainmentN
Boomtown Bossier City Casino300 Riverside Dr, Bossier City, LA 71111(318) 746-0711RiverboatPenn National GamingN
Boomtown Casino & Hotel New Orleans4132 Peters Rd, Harvey, LA 70058(504) 366-7711RiverboatPenn National GamingY
Coushatta Casino Resort777 Coushatta Dr, Kinder, LA 70648(800) 584-7263TribalCoushatta Tribe of LouisianaY
Cypress Bayou Casino and Hotel832 Martin Luther King Rd, Charenton, LA 70523(337) 923-7284TribalChitimacha Tribe of LouisianaN
Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport451 Clyde Fant Pkwy, Shreveport, LA 71101(877) 613-0711RiverboatEldorado ResortsY
Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino2550 Golden Nugget Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601(337) 508-7777RiverboatGolden NuggetY
Harrah's Casino New Orleans228 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130(800) 427-7247Land-basedCaesars EntertainmentY
Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge1717 River Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70802(225) 709-7777RiverboatPenn National GamingN
Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel & Casino711 Horseshoe Blvd, Bossier City, LA 71111(800) 895-0711RiverboatCaesars EntertainmentY
Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Lake Charles100 Westlake Ave, Westlake, LA 70669(337) 430-0711RiverboatCaesars EntertainmentN
Jena Choctaw Pines Casino149 Chahta Trails, Dry Prong, LA 71423(318) 648-7773TribalJena Band of Choctaw IndiansY
L'auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge777 L’Auberge Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70820(225) 215-7777RiverboatPenn National GamingY
L'auberge Casino & Hotel Lake Charles777 Ave L'Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601(337) 395-7777RiverboatPenn National GamingY
Margaritaville Resort Casino Bossier City777 Margaritaville Way, Bossier City, LA 71111(855) 346-2489RiverboatPenn National GamingN
Paragon Casino Resort and Hotel711 Paragon Pl, Marksville, LA 71351(800) 946-1946TribalTunica-Biloxi Indian TribeY
Sam's Town Hotel & Casino315 Clyde Fant Pkwy, Shreveport, LA 71101(877) 429-0711RiverboatBoyd GamingN
Treasure Chest Casino5050 Williams Blvd, Kenner, LA 70065(504) 443-8000RiverboatBoyd GamingN

One group of locations to mention are the four racinos in the state. The four horse tracks in Louisiana are permitted to offer a number of slot machines as a way to supplement their revenues. That’s why they appear in the table above.

Types of games at Louisiana casinos

For the most part, Louisiana casinos offer all the same options for games that you’d expect in most large gambling venues. Other than sports betting, you can find most typical casino games wherever you go in the Pelican State. Options include the following:

  • Slots
  • Video poker
  • Blackjack
  • Craps
  • Roulette
  • Baccarat
  • Pai gow
  • Let It Ride
  • Hoodoo Big Six
  • Triple Zero
  • High Card Flush
  • Keno
  • Bingo
  • Live poker

In addition, there are side bets and variants that can offer a twist on standard games. You can place the In Bet at blackjack tables, for instance, where you wager whether the card the dealer has showing will fall between the value of your two cards. You can also try Craps, Roll to Win, an electronic and live craps hybrid that opens the possibility of a big payout for a hot shooter.

Can you play slots online in Louisiana?

No. As is the case with other types of online gambling in Louisiana, online slot play is strictly prohibited by state law. In fact, Louisiana is one of the only states to criminalize online casino play. There is even a provision in the law that classifies repeat offenders as felons, which is pretty intense for clicking a button on a computer or mobile device a few times.

Now, in general, law enforcement officials are more interested in pursuing the site owners and operators, rather than individual players. We could not find any reports of arrests or legal troubles for individuals. However, it is still definitively illegal, and bears all the consequences of illegal activity that you’d expect with other infractions.

The only solution at this time is to use one of the sweepstakes sites. Three of them — Chumba Casino, LuckyLand Slots and Funzpoints — offer numerous slot titles for you to play. For the most part, playing one of these games is indistinguishable from the games you’d find in a true online casino. The only appreciable difference is that none of the more-famous slot brands will be available. However, the operation won’t be any different.

Are there other places to gamble in Louisiana?

Yes. Louisiana is home to several other gambling venues besides its casinos. Any discussion of gambling in Louisiana must mention the presence of video poker lounges and devices throughout the state.

Video poker lounges

The Pelican State legalized video poker as part of its gambling expansion in the early 1990s. The 1991 law allowed for the placement of video draw poker gambling devices in bars, convenience stores and truck stops. However, what the law did not do was adequately define those categories, particularly with regard to “truck stops.” As a result, since then, many businesses have pushed for ways to contort themselves into that definition, and some of them have been quite successful.

According to recent revenue reports, there are now more than 12,000 video poker machines active in Louisiana. Those machines are spread over 1,400 locations. In terms of the number of locations, there are more bars offering video poker than any other kind of establishment. However, due to the fact that many of them have dedicated buildings onsite, the 195 truck stops with video poker offer the majority of games in the state. So, if you’re in the mood for video poker in Louisiana, you can probably find some if you just drive down the highway a bit.

Racetracks and OTBs

As mentioned above, there are four racetracks in Louisiana. Three of them — Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino and Delta Downs Racetrack-Casino-Hotel — are all located (more or less) along the I-10 corridor running west-to-east through the southern part of the state. The other racetrack, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, is part of the Shreveport-Bossier City gambling hub in northwest Louisiana.

Louisiana is also home to 17 off-track betting locations that offer simulcast wagering on horse races. You can wager on races taking place in the state and around the country. Three of the locations are at the racetracks above. Only Delta Downs does not have an OTB site. Here are the various racing venues in Louisiana:

NameAddressPhone NumberTypeAssociated Racetrack
Delta Downs Racetrack - Casino - Hotel2717 Delta Downs Dr, Vinton, LA 70668(800) 589-7441TrackN/A
Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino2235 Creswell Ln, Opelousas, LA 70570(866) 472-2466TrackN/A
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70119(504) 944-5515TrackN/A
Harrah's Louisiana Downs8000 E Texas St, Bossier City, LA 71111(318) 742-5555TrackN/A
Boutte/Luling Fair Grounds OTB Casino12715 US-90 Suite 145, Luling, LA 70070(985) 331-2412OTBFair Grounds
Chalmette Fair Grounds OTB Casino8700 W Judge Perez Dr, Chalmette, LA 70043(504) 682-6032OTBFair Grounds
Covington Fair Grounds OTB Casino1 Hollycrest Blvd, Covington, LA 70433(985) 898-0080OTBFair Grounds
Destrehan Fair Grounds OTB Casino121 Ormond Center Ct, Destrehan, LA 70047(985) 307-1200OTBFair Grounds
Elmwood Fair Grounds OTB Casino5428 Citrus Blvd, Harahan, LA 70123(504) 818-1080OTBFair Grounds
Gretna Fair Grounds OTB Casino64A Westbank Expy, Gretna, LA 70053(504) 364-1177OTBFair Grounds
Houma Fair Grounds OTB Casino111 Moss Ln, Houma, LA 70360(985) 851-4088OTBFair Grounds
Kenner Fair Grounds OTB Casino1700 Joe Yenni Blvd, Kenner, LA 70065(504) 466-8525OTBFair Grounds
LaPlace Fair Grounds OTB Casino164 Belle Terre Blvd, Laplace, LA 70068(985) 651-6699OTBFair Grounds
Louisiana Downs OTB2791 Highway 602, Mound, LA 71282(318) 574-5220OTBLouisiana Downs
Meraux Fair Grounds OTB Casino4242 E Judge Perez Dr, Meraux, LA 70075(504) 309-3744OTBFair Grounds
Metairie Fair Grounds OTB Casino2700 Edenborn Ave, Metairie, LA 70002(504) 885-0490OTBFair Grounds
Races & Aces Casino & Off-Track Betting - Henderson2939 Grand Point Hwy, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517(337) 667-7095OTBEvangeline Downs
Races & Aces Casino & Off-Track Betting - Eunice1051 E Laurel Ave, Eunice, LA 70535(337) 457-4033OTBEvangeline Downs
Races & Aces Casino & Off-Track Betting (St. Martinsville)2310 N Main St, St Martinville, LA 70582(337) 394-6055OTBEvangeline Downs
Thibodaux Fair Grounds OTB Casino1766 Canal Blvd, Thibodaux, LA 70301(985) 446-5557OTBFair Grounds
Westwego Fair Grounds OTB Casino800 Westbank Expy, Westwego, LA 70094(504) 267-7723OTBFair Grounds

Tribal casinos in Louisiana

Like many states, Louisiana is home to several Native American tribes. Tribal entities in the US have traditionally suffered from financial troubles and some of the problems that are comorbid with poverty. In 1988, the federal government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which made it legal for federally recognized tribes in the US to negotiate compacts with their states that would allow the construction and operation of casinos on tribal lands.

Four tribes in that category have land in Louisiana. Around the same time that riverboat casinos got the green light, the state was signing off on compacts with each tribe to build casino properties. As a result, there are four tribal casinos in Louisiana, all of which are land-based:

NameAddressPhone NumberTypeOwner/TribeLive Poker? (Y/N)
Coushatta Casino Resort777 Coushatta Dr, Kinder, LA 70648(800) 584-7263TribalCoushatta Tribe of LouisianaY
Cypress Bayou Casino and Hotel832 Martin Luther King Rd, Charenton, LA 70523(337) 923-7284TribalChitimacha Tribe of LouisianaN
Jena Choctaw Pines Casino149 Chahta Trails, Dry Prong, LA 71423(318) 648-7773TribalJena Band of Choctaw IndiansY
Paragon Casino Resort and Hotel711 Paragon Pl, Marksville, LA 71351(800) 946-1946TribalTunica-Biloxi Indian TribeY

Louisiana poker laws

Poker, like all gambling in Louisiana, is covered by Section 27 of the Revised Statutes of Louisiana. The various statutes surrounding gambling in the Pelican State are striking in their specificity. Each type of gambling — casino, sports betting, DFS, lottery and video poker — is covered in its own subsection of Section 27.

The first thing to get out of the way is that online poker is not legal in Louisiana — at all. Like other forms of online gambling, online poker is subject to Louisiana’s unusual choice to criminalize playing on an online gambling site. Under no circumstances should you play online poker in Louisiana, even if the site you find looks legitimate.

However, land-based poker is alive and well in Louisiana. Many retail casinos in the state have dedicated poker rooms and are fully licensed by, regulated by and compliant with the law. So your best bet is to find the nearest poker room to you in the Pelican State — there are nearly a dozen of them.

If you just want a friendly game, then there is good news. Home poker games are legal in Louisiana IF you follow the three main rules about having them:

  1. The game must not be raked, and you must not charge or be charged for playing.
  2. The game must occur in a private residence or area — no poker in the park.
  3. All players must be 21 or older.

Of those three rules, the one that sticks out is the age requirement. Although we can’t comment on the likelihood that you’ll have a problem if someone underage is playing, it is your responsibility that each player you host is 21 or older. Otherwise, the game is illegal.

However, the Louisiana poker laws do not prevent poker from having an impact on the state. The WSOP has made circuit stops in both Shreveport and Harrah’s New Orleans before. If you live in or are visiting Louisiana, there will likely be several games available.

History of gambling in Louisiana

Louisiana is undoubtedly a gambling state. Lake Charles and Shreveport both contain clusters of casinos to appeal not only to residents, but also to the millions of Texans who head east to try their luck each year. There are also hundreds of locations for playing video poker, several venues with live horse racing, off-track betting locations, lottery tickets available in convenience stores, and bingo halls. Within a few years, DFS and sports betting will likely join the mix.

So, Louisianans can justifiably have a rosy outlook on their gambling options. However, gambling is nothing new in the Pelican State. Even if we set aside the gaming that likely took place among Native Americans, Louisiana’s history with gambling predates statehood, the law as we know it and the United States as a country. Even when the state has fully prohibited gambling, it has continued in the shadows almost unabated, and has never stayed off the books for long.

Here are some of the key dates in Louisiana gambling history.

  • 1753 — Fed up with the ineffectiveness of the territory’s ban on gambling, Louisiana Gov. Louis Billouart de Kerlérec opens a government-owned casino in New Orleans. The debut marks the end of a three-decade campaign by Louisiana officials to stamp out gambling. Things had come to a head in 1727 when the St. Louis Church opened to muted fanfare, mostly because people were gambling too much to be bothered. The government casino remained in operation even as Louisiana itself changed hands from the French to the Spanish.
  • 1806 — The Louisiana government officially bans gambling in the state. However, the number of gambling houses in New Orleans had eclipsed the combined total of casinos in places like New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Due to its undeniable importance for tax revenue, the Crescent City receives a special exemption to continue operations. Thus, in a way, New Orleans was the original Atlantic City — an island of gambling in the midst of a sturdy prohibition.
  • 1838 — A group of rich Louisianans, led by Bernard Marigny, hosts the first horse race in Louisiana at the Fair Grounds Race Course. The event, known as the Creole Race, takes place in April and features a $1,000 purse. Over the course of the next 80 years or so, all legal options for wagering are banned in Louisiana EXCEPT for pari-mutuel wagering on horse races. Thus, by the 1920s, the Fair Grounds Race Course is the only place in the state to place a legal wager.
  • 1866 — On the heels of the Civil War, Louisiana establishes the state lottery commission to oversee games. Within 11 years, lottery tickets from Louisiana are sold in almost every state. However, it is not universally beloved, and Louisiana Democrats vote to ban lottery play in 1879. Unfortunately for the lawmakers, their ban both violates the state’s contract with the lottery provider — the nonprofit Louisiana State Lottery Co. — and gives lottery officials the legal recognition to press their function. The result is a massive upswing in the fortunes of the lottery provider, which manifests with 100%+ dividends to shareholders and offers to pay less on their state license. However, reformers in the state do not rest, and the lottery is eventually repealed in 1895.
  • 1940 — After roughly 50 years of an absence of legal gambling in New Orleans, the Legislature votes to create the Louisiana Racing Commission. The commission oversees the operation of racing facilities in the state and pari-mutuel wagering there. The legalization occurs as the vast majority of gambling in the country is confined to the state of Nevada. For two decades, horse racing in Louisiana exists only at Fair Ground Race Course in New Orleans. However, with the debuts of Evangeline Downs in 1966, Delta Downs in 1973 and Louisiana Downs in 1974, the state finally reaches its current offering of live racing in the state. Three of the four tracks also have at least one off-track betting location associated with them.
  • 1993 — Louisiana makes two huge expansions to its gambling profile as a way to deal with escalating budget deficits in the state. First, it reintroduces the state lottery to the public after a century of inactivity. Unfortunately, much like its predecessor, the new incarnation of the lottery is plagued by corruption and scandal. Critically, the Legislature also legalizes the construction and operation of riverboat casinos in the state. The law requires the boats actually to sail while gambling takes place, but this rule is repealed in the coming years. This year is also when bars, restaurants and truck stops get the OK to offer video poker. Almost concurrently, the first tribal and land-based casino in the state, the Cypress Pines Casino, opens in Charenton. Thus, the evolution of Louisiana into a full-service gambling state begins in earnest in 1993.
  • 2020 — After the US Supreme Court strikes down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, in 2018, every state in the country gains the ability to determine its own destiny with regard to sports betting. The Louisiana Legislature is certainly interested in pursuing sports betting as a complement to the state’s gambling, but the twin punches of COVID-19 and multiple hurricanes striking Louisiana put the issue on the back burner until 2020. Thanks to that year’s SB 130, each parish’s citizens are able to vote on the question of sports betting inside parish borders. In the end, 55 of the parishes in Louisiana approve the measure.

Responsible gambling in Louisiana

Gambling is supposed to be fun. The chance to win big and the fear of losing can be a rush, and few things put more pep in your step than walking out of a casino richer than you arrived. However, for some people, the sad reality is that gambling is a destructive and terrible fixture in their lives. These people find themselves unable to stop gambling even when stopping is what they want most to do.

Since Louisiana has so many avenues for wagering, it also must act on behalf of its problem gamblers with a range of resources for the addicted and their families. Here are some of the best ways to pursue recovery and relief from gambling addiction in Louisiana:

  • Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling — The best resource for problem gamblers in Louisiana is the LACG. The service offers a multitude of options for those who are suffering from gambling addiction or are concerned that they might be going too far. In addition to a plethora of helplines for different types of issues, there are fully paid treatment options available for all Louisiana residents. The Louisiana Department of Health — Behavioral Health works in concert with the LACG to provide assistance to problem gamblers and their families.
  • Louisiana State Police self-exclusion list — For some gamblers, their addictions are so profound that they must take the drastic step of self-exclusion. The Louisiana State Police offer and maintain the self-exclusion list for the state. If you submit a written request to be placed on the list, you will be denied entry to any Louisiana gambling establishment for at least five years. After the five-year period expires, you can stay on the list or submit a request to be reinstated. However, if you visit a gambling venue during your time on the list, you can be subject to forfeiture, fines and jail time if caught. It’s a very serious step, to be sure, but it can be a necessary one if a player truly cannot stop gambling.
  • Gamblers Anonymous/GAM-ANON — Support groups for problem gambling can sometimes be effective when other methods are not. There are multiple meetings for Gamblers Anonymous in several locations throughout Louisiana each week. These meetings will connect problem gamblers with others who are on the road to recovery. The members can provide support and accountability and be a champion for people’s journey back to the light. In addition, family members of the afflicted can receive support services of their own through GAM-ANON. There’s no denying that problem gamblers can cause damage to those closest to them.
  • National Council on Problem Gambling — Finally, it is also possible to receive help on the national level. If you would like to reach out to the NCPG and get assistance, there is a 24/7 confidential helpline with trained counselors standing by. Since the resources in Louisiana are so well-developed, you may get routed back to the state programs.

With so many options, there is no reason that a Louisiana gambler should struggle with problem gambling one minute longer. Counseling services are available absolutely free, and each minute in recovery is a minute not lost to addiction. Make the call to stop suffering now.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a senior evergreen content writer for PlayUSA. He’s been writing and reporting on the gambling industry since 2013. Prior to working for PlayUSA, Shirley was a feature writer for QuadJacks, a site covering issues in poker. He also writes for BonusCodePoker, a poker satire site that lampoons the lighter side of card games. Shirley is a graduate of the MBA program at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and has a degree in English from Texas A&M University. He grew up in Houston, TX, and lives in Katy, just west of Houston. Shirley is also a former high school teacher. He is married, has one daughter, and practices Brazilian jiu jitsu in his spare time.

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