A law that would allow a parish by parish vote on the legalization of sports gambling at established gaming sites passed a Senate Judiciary Committee 3-1.

First Baptist Church of Ponchatoula Pastor David Cranford says this bill will cost lives.

“Lives that will be lost to suicide, lives that will be lost to crime, lives that will be lost to crime, lives that will be lost to families that will be thrown into chaos because of problem and pathological gambling.”

another opponent of the legislation says studies show there are 278,000 problem gamblers in the state, and that 98,000 fall into the most severe variety of “pathological gamblers”. He quoted a Baylor study that claims that group costs the state 875 million annually.

But Metairie Senator Danny Martiny says the activity would raise 40-60 million dollars a year that could be put towards early childhood education, and that failing to legalize sports betting won’t stop addicts from betting.

“You can say whatever you want, all of the ills that they talk about that exist, they exist whether I file this bill or I don’t file this bill.”

Reports from other states have noted the amount of revenue generated by sports betting has come up far short of initial estimates.

Gambling addicts, including New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson, the only dissenting vote, spoke about the need to increase gambling addiction recovery services, especially if the law were to pass. Former LSU basketball player Randy Livingston spoke about his addiction, which went back to his time in purple and gold.

“Most of the treatment centers are underfunded, and have scarce resources, and so I would like to see moving forward going towards all of the treatment centers here.”

The sites that would be authorized are the state’s 15 riverboats, four race tracks, and the land-based casino in New Orleans, and gambling on high school athletics would be prohibited.

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