Louisiana is a state in the United States’ deep south region. It is one of the most diverse states in the country, integrating American, African, and even French cultures into one way of life. This is seen, for instance, in the popularity of Creole and Cajun foods, dressing, dances and other demographic features. This rich cultural mix has also resulted in a profound language diversity, meaning that despite the fact that over 90% of the population speaks English, other languages such as French and Spanish enjoy a high usage rate in the state.
An important part of Louisiana’s history lies in the fact that during the American colonial period and even following independence, the state served as a hub for the trans-Atlantic slave trade – with indentured slaves transported from West Africa to work in the fields and plantations there.
Louisiana has a state-wide population of around 4.7 million people, making it the 25th most populous state in the U.S. With a median household income around $49,000, it ranks 48th in the country.
The state shares borders with Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, Texas to the west, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Baton Rouge is the capital and New Orleans is its largest and, by most accounts, most popular city. Peculiarly, New Orleans is the only American state with the political subdivision known as “parishes”, which is used in the state in place of counties. This is a reflection of Louisiana’s catholic, French origins.
Geographically, much of the land in Louisiana is defined by its waterways, with rivers, creeks, marshes, and swamps accounting for more than 8% of the total area of the state. In fact, the “bayou”, a popular word used to denote a marshy outlet into a lake or river, is typical to most of Louisiana and parts of Texas.
Early History of Poker and Gambling in Louisiana
Louisiana probably has the most interesting relationship with gambling when compared to other American states. During the colonial era (in the early and mid 18th century), colonial French settlers brought gambling to the state and endeared the rest of the population to the activity. Early Louisianians loved gambling so much that hundreds of betting venues such as cabarets and billiard halls were established in the state before the first cathedral appeared. These offered games like poker and blackjack, and were the favorite spots for most people to relax and while away time.
After a failed attempt to ban all gambling activities in the state, then-Louisiana Governor Louis Billouart de Kerlerec established a new government-run casino in 1753. In essence, gambling was so popular in the state that the only way to gain some degree of control over the activity was to regulate it.
When the 20th century rolled around, however, pari-mutuel horse betting was the only legally-sanctioned form of gambling left in Louisiana. Decades of anti-gambling sentiment from a large part of the state’s legislature resulted in a successful ban on table games like poker. Even the state lottery fell apart following a prohibition on the renewal of its charter in 1895.
In the past 40 years, however, things have taken a dramatic turn for the better for Louisiana’s gambling industry. The 1980s saw the state government, following years of dwindling public revenue generation, clamor for the reintroduction of the state lottery. As such, in 1990, the state put a state lottery referendum to the public and it received overwhelming support. By 1991, the lottery was back in full swing.
Not wanting to stop at bringing back the lottery, Louisiana lawmakers, in conjunction with the Louisiana state Governor at the time (Gov. Roemer) approved the establishment of 15 riverboat casinos spread out across cities like Shreveport-Bossier, Lake Charles, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. Continuing on that momentum and following his win in 1992, newly-elected Governor Edwin Edwards guided legislation through the state senate that authorized the construction of Louisiana’s first-ever full-scale land-based casino in Crescent City. This, he argued, would bring tens of thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions in annual revenue to the state government – and it did.
With a combination of 1988’s Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the unprecedented wave of newly-legalized gambling activities in the state, Louisiana’s Native American tribal groups sought to get in on the action as well. The three recognized tribes (at the time) all negotiated agreements with the state and as a result, each opened their own land-based casinos.
In total, Louisiana has 28 casinos, four of which are tribal-owned and nineteen of which are riverboat casinos. These casinos have full-scale table games on offer: roulette, poker, craps, blackjack, and more.
Online Poker and Gambling in Louisiana
Surprisingly, Louisiana isn’t as receptive to online gambling as it has been to land-based gambling. Even when compared to states that are anti-gambling, Louisiana’s stance on online table games and sports betting is unwaveringly and explicitly harsh. Online gambling, including games like poker, is banned in the state and local law enforcement has the authority to carry out crackdowns on lawbreakers.
It is amongst the only states to have amended its laws to specifically cover online gambling, banning all gambling and betting activities carried out over the internet.
On a brighter note, a commission has since been set up by the state government to undertake a thorough evaluation of the activity. This means that hopefully, we will see locally-based online betting platforms become a reality in Louisiana in the not too distant future. For now, your only chance to gamble online in Louisiana is through offshore betting sites like Bovada or BetOnline.