There have been many businesses and industries that have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. While Louisiana's gaming industry may not have taken the hardest economic hit it certainly took a substantial one during the subsequent shutdown and slow reopening of the state's economy.

Louisiana lawmakers are seeking to provide relief and assistance to the industry as legislation involving tax-free promotional play is currently working its way through the legislature in Baton Rouge.

Yesterday the Louisiana Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved legislation to give the gaming industry an $83 million tax break. One of the major components of that legislation would allow casinos to offer players $5 million on free promotional wagers without having to pay state taxes on that money.

Should a casino want to give out more than $5 million in promotional play that money would be taxed at the standard rate of 21.5%.  By the way, that tax break would cost the state about $11.2 million in tax revenue. 

Supporters of the bill believe that casinos could use the promotional free play program to lure players back through their doors. Studies have shown that once players are through the door and in the casino they generally tend to use the free play voucher and then pull out their own wallets to spend even more. Trust me, the casinos know more about your gaming habits than you do. 

The current legislation will now go to the Senate floor for debate. Earlier this year a more costly resolution regarding tax-free promotional play was defeated in committee. That would have cost the state about $29 million in revenue next year and almost $220 million in revenue over the next five years.