Louisiana Gambling Laws


This US state is one of the most lenient ones when it comes to casino gambling in the entire South. The capital of Baton Rouge is a home to a few great casinos where players from all around the world can enjoy their favorite casino games. The history of this industry in Louisiana is quite long and rich, dating way back to the 19th century.

Also, another interesting fact about this state is that it was the first one to take part in the horse racing market. Since the rocky start of the casino gaming industry in Louisiana, there were many attempts to shut down any form of playing casino games. That was not of much use since it only made the creators take them furhter underground, where the real party was going on.

Today, however, the law is pretty strict regarding gambling, but still offers you a lot of options to enjoy your favorite games. Casinos are actually not the only regulated place where you can spend your time playing games of chance, as you will learn in the following passages. Another thing that stands out is that you have to be at least 18 to engage in charity gambling and horse racing, while the limit for both state lottery and casinos is 21.

The History of Gambling in Louisiana

The oldest reports regarding gambling in Louisiana actually claim that the first casinos were built even before the churches. The first ever legal form of gambling—the lottery—first appeared in the 1860s. However, the game of lottery had to take quite a long road before ultimately becoming fully legal almost 100 years later, because of the many criminal activities that followed.

Horse racing is an all-time favorite activity among the US citizens, and Louisiana is no exception. For a long time, it was the only allowed gambling activity in this state, and only during fairs. It finally became legal in 1920, and from then on a pretty stable industry was made. Today, those “racinos” also offer many alluring slot games, too. Horse racing is also the only option for an online casino in this state and was the only version of sports betting until the Daily Fantasy Sports was introduced at the end of 2018.

Louisiana-gambling history

As far as casinos go, the major step was made in 1991 when the state was given permission to open 15 riverboat casinos, mostly around Lake Charles. From then on, a new path has been created for all land-based Louisiana casinos, as well as the Tribal casinos. In addition, even though the state of Louisiana was a pioneer in the so-called Louisiana riverboat gambling, the state loves land-based casinos even more so.

Today, there are 28 casinos in Louisiana in total. Most of them have pretty lavish poker rooms, and 6 of them are Tribal casinos, which are under the jurisdiction of the Native Tribes. Also, all forms of online gambling that aren’t considered to be in the horse racing category are strictly forbidden and punished quite severely.

Which Games Can You Play in Louisiana?

Aside from horse racing being the age-old business, Louisiana also has a lot of live gambling options. In casinos, you can enjoy a full range of casino games which can be found in most casinos around the world.

When it comes to the state lottery, the scratch-off cards and lotto tickets are allowed; charities can also sell bingo cards and raffles, as well as perform Keno gaming nights. Social games—especially poker—are a tricky category. Namely, it is not technically legal under any code but it is “tolerated,” as long as it is not played for the realization of profit by an individual or a group hosting it.

Also, when it comes to video poker, there was a long tradition of resentment towards the game. However, over time video poker became legalized and it is now available in some bars, truck stops, and taverns too. Online poker, however, is firmly forbidden by the Gaming Control Board, and it doesn’t seem like this policy will change in the near future.

The Harrah’s New Orleans

This casino is the only one that stands out on the list of Louisiana casinos since it does not fall into any group. It is technically a riverboat casino, but it is allowed to operate on land by the state. This permission comes with one huge request that the casino is happy to oblige — they have to employ at least 2,400 people at all time and pay a huge tax to the state. The reason being, the state wants to help decrease the unemployment rate in Louisiana, which is always a good thing.

The Official Documents

Though Louisiana is considered quite strict in this area, there are far more options for you to enjoy here than in most other US states. The Louisiana statute defines gambling as an act of participation in a game or lottery where a “person risks the loss of anything of value” in order to win money.

Also, online gambling is stated as a form of attempting to do the same with the use of a computer and the Internet, and is to be steered clear of, since engaging in online gambling (that isn’t horse racing) is a punishable offense.

Breaking the Law

As we’ve mentioned above, the state of Louisiana treats criminal activities in this area quite severely, especially in the area of online gambling. Coincidentally, the majority of cases which were prosecuted by this state concern illegal gambling websites, which were sentenced with huge penalties and even probation for a couple of years.

The big names are also not excluded from this shady narrative. The now infamous Betcha website was also caught performing illegal gambling activities. The story was highly publicized and made a huge impact on the entire gambling community.

What’s Next?

As for what the future holds in Louisiana, there are talks and negotiations about developing the Golden Nugget establishment in the Southern state. This resort and casino chain is quite luxurious and successful, and the construction has an estimated price tag of over $600 million. However, if built, this casino and hotel will provide a Vegas-like gambling experience to all Louisiana natives and tourists from all over the world, so why not?

Aside from banning every type of online gambling, except one, this state is still considered to be quite progressive in this area of business and entertainment.