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Caesars Sportsbook Launches Retail Sports Betting In Louisiana

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Caesars Entertainment has launched retail sports betting in Louisiana through their Caesars Sportsbook subsidiary.
  • Retail betting is currently available at Harrah’s New Orleans and Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel & Casino.
  • Sports betting should be available at the remaining three Caesars properties in Louisiana in early 2022.

There’s a lot of gaming options in Louisiana but overall the state has one of the most inexplicable regulatory frameworks of any state in the country. Louisiana gambling is a strange mishmash of a state lottery, commercial casinos, tribal gaming, parimutuel facilities, off track betting and–obviously–truck stops. Yep, truck stops in Louisiana can offer video poker–and only video poker–assuming that the Parish (Louisiana’s version of counties) in which they’re located approves. Roughly half of them do. At last check, there are around 200 truck stop casinos in Louisiana which are allowed to offer as many as 50 machines. Those of you who are familiar with how the gaming industry operates–particularly in excessively regulated jurisdictions–can see what’s coming next: many of the video poker games available in Louisiana truck stops do everything they can to play like slot machines. Case in point–a video poker machine featuring three things that Louisiana truckers apparently love called ‘Candy, Cats and Cash’ which offers plenty of opportunities for ‘bonus games’ such as this:

Candy, Cats and Cash video poker bonus game

Not that I blame them–to the contrary, this is a classic case of markets routing around regulatory interference. Other states have jumped aboard the truck stop poker bandwagon including Pennsylvania which mandates that to qualify as a ‘truck stop’ a facility must pump 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel a month. This is presumably because everyone knows that a place that pumps only 35,000 gallons a month doesn’t know the first thing about running a gaming operation.

Sports betting in Louisiana is also subject to the same ‘Parish by Parish’ approach as truck stop video poker though it has considerably wider support. Voters have approved sports betting in 55 of 64 Parishes though the state is apparently still trying to figure out how to make it work. Despite the challenge involved, Louisiana officials suggest that mobile betting will be available in ‘a couple of months’. A press release from Caesars Entertainment takes a more realistic view saying only that mobile betting is ‘pending regulatory approval’. What isn’t clear is whether mobile betting will be available statewide or just in the 55 Parishes that approved sports betting. The technology is available to geofence the state in such a manner but how silly would this be? Can you imagine being a sports bettor in one of the 9 Louisiana Parishes without mobile betting knowing that everywhere else in the state has access? It’s dumb enough that, say, New York residents have to drive over the bridge to New Jersey to place bets. Imagine having to drive over the Parrish line in some Louisiana backwater to place bets.

Even though sports betting is ‘enjoying’ the same ‘make it up as we go along’ approach to gaming regulation as every other element of the industry in the state they’ve at least managed to go live with retail sportsbooks. The first retail bet in Louisiana was made at the Paragon Resort Casino which has Betfred Sports operating their sportsbook. Betfred has a knack for this–they were also the location of the first retail bet made in Colorado. Four more Louisiana properties were licensed late last week: Caesars Sportsbook inside Harrah’s New Orleans (which will eventually be rebranded as Caesars New Orleans), Boomtown Casino in Harvey, L’Auberge in Baton Rouge, and Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City. The Horseshoe in Bossier City is also a Caesars property while L’Auberge Baton Rouge and the Boomtown in Harvey (which is called Boomtown New Orleans) are both Penn National owned properties. Interestingly, the two Penn National locations are launching with the eponymous branding ‘The Sportsbook at Boomtown New Orleans‘ and ‘The Sportsbook at L’Auberge Baton Rouge‘ instead of the Barstool Sportsbook branding. The two Penn National sportsbooks are opening early this week.

The sportsbooks at the two Caesars Entertainment properties opened today and accepted their first bets. The company held simultaneous first bet events at the Harrah’s and Horsehoe. They are operating temporary retail books there while more elaborate permanent ones are under location. Here’s how the Caesars press release described the festivities:

To commemorate the milestone, Caesars held simultaneous first bet events at temporary retail sportsbooks inside Harrah’s and Horseshoe. In New Orleans, former New Orleans Saints quarterback and current media personality Bobby Hebert placed the ceremonial first bet to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. At the same time, Mayor Tommy Chandler cut the ribbon to get wagering underway in Bossier City. Lines of sports fans eager to get in on the action built at both sportsbooks, led in Bossier City by a guest betting $55,000 on the Detroit Lions to cover +3.5 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dan Real, Regional President, Caesars Entertainment, called it a ‘historic day’ for his company:

“Caesars is proud of our commitment to Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast region. Today was historic for us as a company and we’re excited to open our new Caesars Sportsbook locations at Harrah’s New Orleans and Horseshoe Bossier City to honor the legacy these properties hold in the region. We can’t wait to introduce all that sports betting has to offer to sports fans while sharing our emphasis on responsible gaming.”

As for mobile betting, Caesars doesn’t look to have any better idea about what it’ll look like than I do. They have made the Caesars Sportsbook app available for registration and deposit by ‘eligible sports fans in Louisiana’ though there’s no detail about who is ‘eligible’. Here’s what they said elsewhere in the release about mobile betting:

With mobile sports wagering still pending regulatory approval, sports fans in the region are encouraged to visit these properties to learn about in-person sports betting and responsible gaming while taking advantage of this new entertainment offering.  

I really wish companies would quit acting like nobody in newly regulated jurisdictions have ever bet on sports before. It’s disingenuous and an insult to the intelligence of everyone who understands the industry. I know they have to play along with this ruse for regulators but they need to omit it from their public facing statements. The state of Louisiana and city of New Orleans in particular have a centuries long tradition of gambling–legal and illegal. There’s also been plenty of sports betting. At one point, I probably knew more ‘local guys’ in Louisiana than any other state in the country. While we’re at it, I really wish gaming companies would quit hitting everyone over the head with the ‘responsible gaming’ rap. Once again, I know they have to emphasize this for regulators. To their credit, most companies are doing a very good job at flagging customers with gambling problems. That said, it’s mind numbing to hear the nonstop jibber jabber about ‘responsible gaming’. It’s good that they’re committed to this concept but how about dialing it back a bit when communicating with the public and those of us in the industry? But I digress….

Eric Hession, Co-President of Caesars Digital, is looking forward to offering mobile betting in Louisiana:

“We are excited to bring sports betting to our valued customers in Louisiana. The launch of our sportsbooks at Harrah’s and Horseshoe is just the beginning. Once mobile sports betting is live, we look forward to serving sports fans on every platform and offering all of our customers unforgettable experiences with Caesars Rewards.”

The press release also played up the Ceasars partnership with LSU as well as the naming deal with the Louisiana Superdome:

Caesars Sportsbook is the official sportsbook partner of LSU Athletics, the official casino sponsor and an official sports betting partner of the NFL, and has partnerships with the NBA, NHL, MLB, and several individual teams. Caesars’ commitment to Louisiana also includes the recent 20-year, exclusive naming-rights partnership with the New Orleans Saints to rebrand New Orleans’ iconic downtown stadium as the Caesars Superdome.

As for a) when sports betting will be available at the remaining three CZR properties in the state and b) when the ‘brand-new state-of-the-art retail sportsbooks will open at Caesars/Harrah’s New Orleans and the Horseshoe Bossier City it sounds like it’ll be sometime in 2022:

Harrah’s and Horseshoe will each open a brand-new state-of-the-art retail sportsbook in 2022. Caesars is also investing hundreds of millions of dollars to transform Harrah’s New Orleans into Caesars New Orleans and Isle of Capri Lake Charles into Horseshoe Lake Charles. When the renovation is finished in the fall of 2022, Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles will reopen with a Caesars Sportsbook location.

Congrats to Caesars for launching sports betting in a new market and fingers crossed that Louisiana doesn’t screw up mobile betting.

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