BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana gambling regulators Thursday backed the state’s first license for fantasy sports betting, paving the way for DraftKings to launch its operations in the 47 parishes where voters authorized the gaming activity nearly three years ago.
DraftKings said its daily fantasy sports contests will “soon be live” in those parishes after getting the license approval from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. But the company didn’t provide a specific date it would be up and running fantasy sports betting in its 44th state.
“As DraftKings continues our nationwide expansion, we welcome Louisiana to the DraftKings family, an area rich with culture, heritage and die-hard fanbases in both professional and college sports,” Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings North America, said in a statement after the gambling board’s decision.
In fantasy sports, people create imaginary teams of real-life sports players and score points based on how those players perform in actual games. Websites charge an entry fee and offer payouts to winners. Boston-based DraftKings is one of the largest fantasy sports companies.
Voters in nearly three-quarters of Louisiana’s 64 parishes agreed in the November 2018 election to legalize fantasy sports betting. Lawmakers then set the tax rates and the regulatory process. The Gaming Control Board determines which individual operators get licenses.
DraftKings submitted its licensing request in February, shortly after the gambling board opened the application period. The Louisiana State Police conducted a background investigation and financial review of the company to ensure it complied with state regulations.
The agency said DraftKings estimated it would bring in $15.5 million in net revenue for the current budget year, generating nearly $1.3 million in tax dollars for the state.
Participants in Louisiana’s fantasy sports competitions will have to be at least 21 years old. The games only will be permitted in parishes where voters authorized it, but anybody will be able to log into the online sites if they travel to those parishes.
Voters in 55 parishes also have legalized sports betting on live-action games, but the Gaming Control Board hasn’t yet completed its regulations and application process to start the wagering through sports book sites, mobile apps and kiosk locations in those parishes.