And They’re Off: First Louisiana Sportsbook Set To Debut At Tribal Casino In Marksville

Update: the first bet was placed by Saints great Joe Horn.

Add Louisiana to the ranks of the legal sports betting states, as on Wednesday bettors will plunk down the first licensed wagers at the sportsbook located at Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville starting at 3 p.m. CST.

Located in central Louisiana, Paragon will unveil its sportsbook dubbed The Draft Room, which contains traditional theater seating, a custom video wall, betting counters, and kiosks, per a news release. It also has a restaurant with 112 TVs and table and bar seating, plus three “VIP fan caves” for private gatherings.

Paragon’s sportsbook will operate in partnership with Betfred USA Sports, a subsidiary of the U.K.-headquartered bookmaker Betfred. Louisiana will mark the fourth state for the company, which launched in 2020 in ColoradoIowa, and Pennsylvania.

“As a native Louisianan and chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, I am thrilled to help usher in sports betting to our state,” said Chairman Marshall Pierite, representing  the tribe that owns and operates Paragon Casino Resort. “This partnership with Betfred Sports promises continued success for Paragon as we continue our mission to provide a first-class gaming destination and vacation experience to our neighbors and guests coming to central Louisiana.”

The federally recognized Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, like other tribes in the state, operates on a  licensure track separate from the commercial sportsbooks.

“Louisiana is an exciting opportunity for Betfred Sports to continue its expansion in the U.S.” said Mark Stebbings, Betfred Group chief operating officer. “We look forward to utilizing our 50 years of bookmaking experience with our fantastic partner, Paragon Casino Resort, to bring the best sports betting experience to bettors in the state.”

Commercial sportsbooks coming soon

On Aug. 23 commercial operators began lining up to gain regulatory approval in the state through an application process that resides with the Louisiana State Police. The new state law inked in June allows for wagering at brick-and-mortar locations at 20 existing gaming locations (casinos and racetracks) and up to 40 digital sports wagering platforms (up to two online skins for each licensee), plus lottery kiosks at locations with Class A on-site liquor licenses.

For commercial applicants, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Aug. 18 unanimously approved the sports betting rules and regulations, but the application process was delayed in September due to damage inflicted by Hurricane Ida. As of Sept. 16, eight operators had applied for licensure, a number that surely has increased in the weeks since and is expected to include all major commercial operators. Among them will be Caesars (the company operates five casinos in the state), Barstool SportsbookFanDuel, and WynnBET. The board meets next on Oct. 21.

Commercial approvals, expected to begin in mid-October, will come in the form of a “temporary certificate of authority” for operators already licensed for gaming either in Louisiana or another U.S. state. But it is unclear if applicants will gain approval first to launch physical sportsbooks, or online sportsbooks, or both simultaneously.

On Sept. 17, Louisiana State University turned some heads when it announced a partnership with Caesars, designating the company the exclusive sportsbook and gaming partner of the SEC powerhouse. LSU thus became just the second school from a “Big Five” power conference to enter such a partnership, following the University of Colorado’s deal with PointsBet Sportsbook in September 2020.

Written by Brett Smiley

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