Introduction: The State of Gambling in Louisiana
If you’re going to gamble then gambling in Louisiana isn’t a bad starting point. The Louisiana Bayou is one of the most iconic of all American landscapes. The bayou stretches from Mobile, Alabama to Houston in Texas. The nature of this watery landscape has inspired many a tale of legend and intrigue. If you’re wanting to go exploring something completely different, then a trip to the bayou is a must.
The state enjoys some of the most liberal gambling laws that can be found in the whole of the US. There are some laws to follow, but they are both few and easy to remember. Let’s have a deeper dive into gambling on the bayou.
History of Louisiana Gambling Laws
In the 1700s, a large number of French, Spanish, and Caribbean immigrants, along with a huge number of West African slaves settled in New Orleans. Their descendants are known as “Creoles” and their lively and vibrant culture give the city a rich and diverse energy. Not surprisingly, the gambling culture of the area precedes even the very first churches, with the casino’s building first. The mixed and diverse culture has bought together many peoples from different parts of the world. To that end, you’ll find that there’s a huge love of social activities and lots of partying at any opportunity. In the 1800s, the lottery was massively popular. And, just like in the stories of old, this type of gambling was chock full of nefarious characters and undesirables.
Old West Tricksters
Because so many hard-working and law-abiding citizens were ending up losing all their monies and savings to these crooks, the state eventually gave in and banned all lotteries. It took over a century for the state to finally relent and allow lottery gambling once again. As you can imagine, today’s lotteries are very different affairs from those run all those years ago. An old trick was for some “out of towner’s” to show up and set up a lottery with the local population. After collecting all the money, they would organize things so that they won the lottery, and thus were able to keep all the monies.
Another very popular form of gambling that has taken place for well over 100 years, is horse racing. Beginning at the turn of the century, it was the only form of legal gambling for many years. Back then, the only form of bet you could make has parleyed. Today, we’re glad to report that things have moved on considerably.
Gambling in Louisiana: Louisiana Lotteries
There are any number of lotteries going on in the state of Louisiana at any one time. First off, we have the state lottery which is drawn several times each week. Then there are all the multi-state games. There are both Powerball and Megamillions which help many gamblers become instant overnight millionaires. You can also buy scratch-off lottery tickets which are incredibly popular. There are over 40 different scratch-card lotteries on offer, with ticket prices ranging from $1 to $10. You’ll need to be at least 21 years of age in order to purchase a lottery ticket. For some reason unknown to us, they bumped the age up from 18 in 1998. This is probably to syn all the gambling games to fall under one age; 21 years is the minimum age for gambling across the whole state.
Gambling in Louisiana: Horse Racing
Horse racing is a huge money-spinner for the state. The Louisiana Downs is the main venue for the sport in Louisiana. You can find it located at Bossier City, which happens to be near Shreveport’s riverboat casinos. The season for horse racing runs from May until September. If you love horse racing, then we thoroughly recommend attending one of the races at the Louisiana Downs. On a beautiful Spring day, with all the young horses ready to race, both the landscape and the event will make for a wonderful experience.
Gambling in Louisiana: Online Gambling
Going to the casinos to win the jackpot is one thing. But thanks to online casinos, you don’t need to be going anywhere as you can gamble from the comfort of your own home. This has revolutionized gambling around the world. In fact, it makes gambling easier than most other practical activities. The sheer convenience means that all players can gamble from anywhere. That is, of course, unless you happen to have the misfortune of living in Louisiana! Though many states are happy to accommodate online gambling, for this state it’s a big no-no. And they aren’t messing around. First-time offenders can expect a $500 fine and six months of prison time. A second offense means that the “crime” jumps from being a misdemeanor to being a felony. This could spell fines of over $1,000 along with a 9-month prison sentence.
But here’s the thing….not one person has ever been prosecuted for gambling online in the state. Somehow we can’t imagine that the fine citizens of the state of Louisiana follow the law to any greater or lesser extent than those based in other states.
This is really about gambling in your own home. It just seems super weird to us that any government might legislate against what you can do in your own home. Luckily, Louisiana isn’t one of those busy-body states seeking to impose crazy laws on its own citizens. So, if you’re on the bayou, then you’re free to gamble at home, and for real money. If you’re playing jackpot poker with your friends, then there’s nothing to worry about. OK….there are some no-no’s you might want to avoid. These include charging an entrance or cover charge, selling foodstuffs, and making a profit from the vent. Once again, we’re unsure as to how such laws are imposed or policed. We can’t imagine the police being happy with wasting their time on such pettiness.
In Louisiana, casino gambling is totally legal across the whole state. Probably the largest and most recognizable casinos in the state are the riverboat casinos. These huge vessels are a hold-over from a different era. Back then, these river cruiser boats would be filled with business people traveling up and down the Mississippi to make money. Today, you can play all your favorite casino games including poker and jackpot slots. Never-the-less, they do operate under strict legal boundaries.
Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Shreveport is among the biggest of all of these. In truth, it’s more of a barge than a boat. Having said that, the law here states that all water-based casinos must have an operational system of propulsion. We should point out that the huge paddle wheels that you’ll see on the backs of these boats are just for show and do absolutely nothing.
If you drive south from Shreveport for around 3 hours, you’ll reach Lake Charles. This is another popular casino destination. This hub attracts most of its players from Texas. Many come from either Austin or Houston. In fact, if you’re gambling living in Houston, you can set your alarm clock to 5 pm, then you can be across the border and be seated at the casino in Lake Charles by 7 pm.
Conclusion: Gambling in Louisiana
The state of Louisiana enjoys some of the most relaxed gambling laws in the whole country. Apart from online gambling, you’re pretty much free to do as you want. Still, we do find it hard to believe that all online gambling is illegal throughout the state.