Texas has been good for Louisiana sports betting. Lone Star bettors can’t bet legally on sports in their own state, so many are crossing the state border to wager in legal states. And the big draw over the east Texas state line is the Lake Charles and Shreveport-Bossier City areas of West Louisiana.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns told Gaming Today this week that West Louisiana is drawing mobile and retail sports bettors and casino business from Houston to Austin and beyond.
“They cater basically to that Houston/East Texas/San Antonio market. So they do a lot of business,” said Johns.
This is a similar dynamic to what the sports betting industry has seen in other areas of the country. New Yorkers were heading to New Jersey to bet before mobile sports betting was legalized in their state, for example. Illinoisians used to travel to Indiana to do the same.
It’s hard to say exactly how many Texans travel into Louisiana to place bets. But data provided to Gaming Today by geolocation firm GeoComply shows active betting right across the east Texas border in the Pelican State. One of the most active days was 2022 Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 13.
Lake Charles and Shreveport-Bossier City combined were home to more than 170,000 sportsbook check-ins that Sunday. Geolocation checks in Shreveport-Bossier City totaled around 131,000, with approximately 40,000 mobile check-ins at Lake Charles.
That rivaled Baton Rouge — the second-largest sports betting market in the state after New Orleans — with approximately 190,000 mobile betting check-ins on Feb. 13, according to GeoComply.
Mobile Sports Betting Is Trending Upward In West Louisiana
The strength of the West Louisiana market seems to be a trend that matches Louisiana online sports betting since the state’s mobile launch on Jan. 28.
GeoComply data Sunday, Jan. 30, the day of the NFL conference championships, shows up to 32 percent of Louisiana online sports betting that day took place in West Louisiana and areas of central Louisiana. The remaining 68 percent, according to GeoComply, came from the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metro areas. Joe Burrow, who won the national championship and Heisman Trophy at LSU, quarterbacked the Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC title that day.
Today, mobile sports betting in western Louisiana is still going strong.
Data points shared by GeoComply with Gaming Today show approximately 225,000 mobile sportsbook check-ins around the Lake Charles area within the 30-day period that ended May 27. Sportsbook engagements mapped by GeoComply in the Shreveport-Bossier City metro area appear to be at least twice that amount.
Johns says Texas is having a huge impact on Lake Charles specifically. Located in southwest Louisiana, the Lake Charles area has more than $1 billion in investment between the L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles (Barstool) and Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel and Casino (DraftKings). Both have retail sportsbooks in addition to mobile sports betting. A third retail sportsbook (Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles’ Caesars Sportsbook) is expected to open later this year.
“They’re sold out every weekend,” Johns said of the two Lake Charles casino properties now in operation. “And they’re estimating 85 percent of their (casino) business comes out of Texas.”
“In terms of casino revenue they’re the largest market, because of the Texas bettors coming in.”
Football And Louisiana Sports Betting
About $840 million in handle was wagered on sports in Louisiana through April, says Johns. State revenue from sports betting has totaled around $10 million. Just how much each sportsbook is netting in revenue from Texas or overall, however, is hard to say — a breakdown in sports betting proceeds by casino and/or sportsbook hasn’t yet been published on the LGCB website. What has been published is how much Louisiana sports betting has netted at the retail level by individual sport.
And football is the clear winner.
According to the LGCB, football tops the list of retail sportsbook net proceeds from launch last November through April 2022 with $3.7 million. Basketball was a distant second at $2.1 million. Parlay bets netted just over $13 million statewide.
It makes sense. Louisiana, like Texas, is a big football state. And football is the most bet sport by far at all in sports betting markets nationwide. That could be one factor helping Lake Charles and Shreveport-Bossier City continue to grow their sports betting markets.
It could also factor into the success in southeastern Louisiana at Harrah’s New Orleans, which is owned by Caesars Entertainment. Caesars also is the naming rights sponsor of the Superdome — home of the New Orleans Saints. Betting at the Superdome is all by mobile, whether on the Caesars app or any other operator licensed in Louisiana.
Johns said Harrah’s New Orleans is about to undergo a $350 million expansion, with a new hotel and casino renovation, and a $12 million investment in a permanent sportsbook. “So they’re putting a lot of capital into their property in New Orleans,” he said.
‘Mattress Mack’ And The West Louisiana Market
Perhaps the most notable Texas sports bettor to place a wager in West Louisiana is Jim McIngvale, aka “Mattress Mack,” a Houston furniture store magnate. McIngvale reportedly bet $9.5 million total to win the 2022 Super Bowl from his phone at a welcome center over the Texas- Louisiana state line.
“He got in his car, drove right across the state line to a welcome center right on I-10. Got out, got him a Coke, placed a $4.5 million bet– came back the next week and placed a $5 million bet,” said Johns. He said most of McIngvale’s bets have been with Caesars.
Mattress Mack is famous for offering rebates to his customers through promotions based on which team wins major sports events, covering the cost of those offers with wagers he makes on the same team. For the 2022 Super Bowl, his pick was the Bengals (while McIngvale lost, he didn’t owe his customers the rebates). Next up is the World Series. According to Johns, Mattress Mack’s pick is likely the Houston Astros.
More data from GeoComply and the LGCB will cycle through as bettors wager statewide by mobile and retail on big events like NBA Finals, World Series, and 2023 NFL season. Louisiana is expected to net well over $30 million in state revenue annually at full operation, according to some estimates.
To quote a comment Johns made to Gaming Today in late 2021, “I think it’s going to be significant.”