Louisiana Senate committee has approved two measures that would give voters the right to legalize betting on college and professional sports. The Senate Judiciary B Committee also approved a bill that would eliminate the tax that casinos pay on freebies they give to gamblers.

“If we will remove this tax, I believe it will increase revenue,” said state Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, the sponsor of the measure, Senate Bill 332, which had been amended from its original purpose.

State Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, said the gambling industry needs help because the state has shut down its operations – to protect customers and employees from being infected by the coronavirus. The move has cost the state at least $100 million so far in gambling taxes, Johns said.

“They are our business partner now,” the committee’s chairman, state Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, said in a comment that illustrated why each of the pro-gambling bills sailed through his committee.

Johns and state Sen. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, sponsored identical sports betting measures (Senate Bill 378 and Senate Bill 130) approved by the committee that would let voters decide whether to allow the wagering in their parish.

“It just gives our people the opportunity to vote it up or vote it down,” Smith said.

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