Texans Boost Louisiana Sports Betting

Texans can’t legally place sports bets in their own state, but thousands from Houston and Austin regularly cross the state line into western Louisiana, including Shreveport-Bossier City and Lake Charles, to bet on sports.

The lack of legalized sports betting in Texas has been very good for Louisiana, according to Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) Chairman Ronnie Johns. The western region of the state, including Lake Charles and Shreveport- Bossier City, has attracted mobile and retail sports bettors and casino visitors from Houston to Austin and beyond. “They cater basically to that Houston/East Texas/San Antonio market. So, they do a lot of business,” Johns said.

It’s difficult to precisely estimate the number of Texans who travel to Louisiana to place bets, but data from the geolocation firm GeoComply indicates active betting across the east Texas border into Louisiana. Super Bowl Sunday, February 13, is a good example. On that day, GeoComply showed Lake Charles received 40,000 mobile check-ins and Shreveport-Bossier City received around 131,000. Baton Rouge received about 190,000 mobile wagering check-ins.

GeoComply data shows that on Sunday, January 30, the day of the National Football League conference championships, 32 percent of Louisiana online sports betting occurred in West and Central Louisiana. The remaining 68 percent came from the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metro areas, according to GeoComply.

More current data from GeoComply indicates from April 27 to May 25, there were around 225,000 mobile sportsbook check-ins from the Lake Charles area, and about twice as many from Shreveport-Bossier City.

Lake Charles is the home of L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles (Barstool) and Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel and Casino (DraftKings). Both offer retail sportsbooks plus mobile sports betting. A third retail sportsbook, Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles (Caesars Sportsbook) is expected to open later this year. Johns said, “They’re sold out every weekend, 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.”

Johns said about $840 million in handle was wagered on sports in Louisiana through April, generating $10 million for the state. The LGCB said at the retail level, football clearly outpaces other sports, with proceeds of $3.7 million since the November launch through this April. Basketball trailed behind at $2.1 million, and parlay bets netted slightly over $13 million statewide. Louisiana is expected to net more than $30 million in annual state revenue once sports betting is in full swing, according to some estimates.

Perhaps the most notable Texas sports bettor to place a wager in West Louisiana is Houston furniture store magnate Jim McIngvale, aka “Mattress Mack.” He reportedly bet $9.5 million on the 2022 Super Bowl from his phone at a welcome center over the Texas- Louisiana state line.

Johns said, “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.” Most of McIngvale’s bets were placed with Caesars, Johns said.