How much of Louisiana’s history in the past 10-15 years is directly descended from the devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought in 2005? In terms of NFLbets’ main areas of concern, NFL football and betting, Katrina changed the former in the short term and the latter in the long term – literally forever, in fact.
Betting in Louisiana
Certainly you’ve heard of the famous riverboat gamblers, hucksters, con men, grifters and general flim flam artists that plied quite a trade on the Mississippi for a good solid run from the early 19th century through to the 1920s at very least. The brisk business the providers of games of chance did outside the law is a testament to the widespread appeal of testing fate through gambling. Heck, it didn’t have to be illegal, necessarily: The modern game we call blackjack is thought to be evolved from the “vingt et un” playing by Francophones in Louisiana in the early 1800s.
While the history of legal betting games isn’t radically different or outstandingly revolutionary over most other states’ in the 20th century, though Louisiana legislators were first or among the very first to regulate riverboat gambling, card playing and pari-mutuel wagering at state horse tracks.
The 1990s saw a boom in riverboat casinos, as new provisions in the law were made to accommodate certain modern gaming. By the end of the decade, some 15 were doing outstanding business, capitalizing further on New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s always-steady tourist trade. Louisiana riverboat casinos were believed to be among the country’s most successful and, with the backing of tourism industry, were strong enough to fend off challenges from environmental concerns into the 2000s.
And then, Katrinia.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed all but one of the riverboat casinos beyond repair and Louisiana’s riverboat gambling was gone in one fell swoop. The state’s 18 land-based casinos remained shut for up to nine months after Katrina touched down and have somehow stayed open for business for 10 years thereafter.
Football in Louisiana
When is pride not pride? The awarding of an NFL franchise to New Orleans in 1967 was, along with the birth of the Atlanta Falcons a year previously, a symbol that the cities of the “New South” had arrived. Folks living in the former Dixie mostly chose from among teams in Dallas (but that’s Texas, not the South), Miami (not at all the South) and Washington D.C. (capital of the Yankees). With the Saints now in town, Louisianans – and southerners in general – could take pride in the new arrival.
Sort of. The Saints would have to play *20 seasons* before enjoying a season above .500, never mind the playoffs?!?!?! (Not just a gratuitous reference: Jim Mora was the head coach of that groundbreaking 1987 New Orleans Saints team.) And it would be another 13 years before the team recorded a playoff win.
Hurricane Katrina hit during the preseason to 2005 NFL season, but the Saints were forced to evacuate the New Orleans area in Auguest. Due to the New Orleans Superdome’s use during the storm’s aftermath as an emergency shelter, the facility was rendered essentially unplayable for ’05. That season, the Saints played just seven “home” games (as opposed to the customary eight), with three held in San Antonio and four in Baton Rouge, the first occasions for both sites to host regular-season NFL games.
But in 2006, magic! Free agent QB Drew Brees came over from the San Diego Chargers, Sean Payton was hired as head coach, and RB Reggie Bush was taken at no. 2 overall in the draft. The team not only flipped the 3-13 of ‘’05 into a 13-3 in ‘’06, the Saints in their 40th season finally took home a Lombardi. Since then – “bountygate” scandal aside – Saints fans have finally been able to enjoy seeing their players on the right side of a highlight clip once in a while.
However, not meaning to be excessively negative or anything, but … one can’t help but wonder if the Saints’ most egregious loss in the divisional round of the 2017-18 playoffs wasn’t the beginning of the end for the salad days of Peyton and Brees … and what happens to the Saints after that?
(Incidentally, due to that initial 20 years’ worth of hole-digging, the Saints are still 41½ games under .500 for franchise history, better than only the Falcons, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – but nothing seven consecutive years of 11-5 or better can’t fix!)
In the college game, Louisiana has supported quality programs since the 19th century and today boasts four programs in Division I college football: Louisiana State, Tulane, Grambling State and University of New Orleans. The LSU Tigers are clearly the jewel of Louisiana football and have been pretty much without interruption since taking a loss to Tulane in 1893 in the first organized football game in the state.
Going into 2018, the Tigers’ cumulative winning percentage is an incredible .650, good for 12th-best among today’s top-division programs; their 787 wins are also good for no. 12 ranking on the all-time list. Between 1896 and 1936, LSU took five titles in the SEC and its progenitors, putting together undefeated seasons in 1896 (when the Tigers went 6-0) and 1908 (10-0). The 1958 LSU Tigers, coached by Hall of Famer Paul Dietzel, featured Louisiana-born All-Americans Billy Cannon, Johnny Robinson and Warren Rabb. These Tigers held the no. 1 spot in college football from the first week of November through to their eked-out 7-0 win over no. 12 Clemson in the ’59 Sugar Bowl.
Incredibly enough, the LSU Tigers may be enjoying their golden age in the BCS era. After adding titles following the 2003 and ’07 seasons, LSU became the first team to take two titles under a format with an defined single championship game.
Betting on Football in Louisiana
With the long history devoted to gambling legal and illegal, most permitted, would lead one to believe that laws on DFS betting would be fairly relaxed. Further, one’d suspect that greater betting on football options will be allowed in the near future.
Except … as in so many other ways, Louisiana is an anomaly. While casino gambling is much more prevalent in Louisiana than other southern states, Louisiana is one of just two in the region (Alabama is the other) in which betting on daily fantasy football and other sports is explicitly illegal. This law goes back to a 1991 law that addressed 1-900 phone numbers (anyone remember them?). At that time, then-attorney general William Guste Jr. offered a legal opinion stating that 1-900 numbers offering gambling services or advice were contrary to Louisiana state law. This unique stance is, even more uniquely, a continuing standard for DFS offerings in Louisiana, thus effectively banning them for state residents.
So where would that leave expansion of football betting in Louisiana? It’s impossible to tell, as this stance is contrary to that of the typical gambling-allowing state. After the Supreme Court cases of 2018, the cards are on Louisiana’s table; a bill to introduce sports betting in the state’s racions did not get out of committee. Legislators may attempt again to cash in on new opportunities, but only time will tell…