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The Saints season came to a tragic end Sunday, but the offseason is sure to keep the team busy. Drew Brees and Kenny Vaccaro headline the Saint’s 2018 free agents. NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says the team has a strong core, that can’t lose its most important piece.

“You’ve got a group of really strong players 28-years-of-age and young so you know what you’ve got to ride the Drew Brees pony and see if he can get you to the big show again.“

Brees is looking at a contract in the range of 23 to 25 million dollars a year.

Along with Brees, the team will have to make a big decision this year on safety Kenny Vaccaro. The former 1st round pick has had an inconsistent career, matching big plays with big errors. Detillier says after placing Vaccaro on injured reserve this year, the team has a tough decision to make.

“What are you going o do with Kenny Vaccaro. Kenny’s at a position where you are going to have an abundance of free agents. You’re going to have to make the choice here.”

The Saints offense and defense sputtered in the first half of Sunday’s game. Detillier says the team could use some reinforcements in key positions.

“The biggest need on this football club is signature pass rush defense end to play opposite of Cam Jordan. On the offensive side of the football you need a signature tight end, a guy that can get down field and make plays.”

Free agency kicks off March 14th.


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Another blast of arctic air is hitting Louisiana again, bringing below normal temperatures and ice and snow. Six parishes bordering Arkansas are under a Winter Storm Warning while parts of Cenla are under a Winter Storm Advisory. National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Duplantis says snow could fall late tonight in the state's northern most parishes.

"We're expecting average snowfall amounts of two to three inches with possibly local amounts of four inches."
Cenla will see some snow as well. Duplantis says sections will see measurable snow after some freezing precipitation falls starting around midnight.
"It could be a possibility for south Louisiana.  It's going to be close.  Most of the moisture will start to ring out of the atmosphere as the cold air pushes further and further south."
There is a slight chance of wintry precipitation in South Louisiana but Duplantis says the storm system will weaken considerably by the time it reaches those areas. 
"Further south you go, there's less and less moisture as the cold air reaches the Gulf."
Road conditions in north Louisiana could deteriorate quickly once this storm system begins producing ice then snow later. DOTD’s Rodney Mallet says they are already preparing for the storm and have a good idea where the trouble spots will be starting late tonight into tomorrow morning. 
"We usually know what roads are going to be impacted and it's usually the same elevated highways.  As the weather gets closer, we'll stage our equipment and out deicing agents and move forward."
Some bridges in the state were shut down during the last winter storm due to safety concerns when they glazed over with ice. Those closures included the Sunshine Bridge in on LA-70 in St. James Parish and a portion of I-110 in Baton Rouge. Mallett says they will be watching all overhead passes and bridges that could prove to be problematic. 
"We will have scouts that are out that will monitor the roadways.  One we see something that starts to freeze, then we will be able to salt and brine it.  And then if it gets to the point that it's unsafe, we will close it."
Mallett says to check L-A-5-1-1 before heading out to see if the route you are taking is open. 
"We have the app and we also have the website and you can get notices sent to your phone or your computer from that site (la511.org).  That way you will know what's closed.  You don't want to drive all the way down to the Sunshine Bridge and find that it's closed."


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Michelle Southern reporting. 
The Louisiana Heroes Project is asking folks to send some Fat Tuesday love to our troops serving in locations throughout the world who can’t be home this Carnival season. Mission Mardi Gras from Afghanistan coordinator Tawney Tallo, says their goal is to make sure all service members deployed from Louisiana receive a Carnival package before February 13th.

"We're looking for beads, throws, hats, King Cakes with no filling," said Tallo. "Just anything you'd see at a traditional parade."

If you would like to send a Mardi Gras Box to a deployed soldier, visit the Louisiana Heroes Project on Facebook for details. Tallo says some people don’t realize how much it means to soldiers when they get special care packages like this.

"Once you're away from your family, you hate to say that you 'lived through the holidays,'" said Tallo. "But you look for those milesotones in time that means you're that much closer to home."

Fill the box with Mardi Gras themed items such as hats, throws, costumes, beads, or Louisiana inspired foods such as beignet mix, red beans and rice, and King Cake. Tallo, who is also deployed overseas, says when these treats arrive it feels like Louisiana has come to them.

"It's a huge morale booster, and also a great way to share our culture with those around us," said Tallo.
She says they are asking that everything be sent by the 20th of January so that the packages arrive in time for Fat Tuesday.


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By Jeff Palermo
There have been a lot of heart breaking losses during the Saints 50-year history, but Sunday's stunning defeat in Minneapolis may top them all. A 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs on the final play of regulation gave the Vikings an improbable 29-24 victory over New Orleans. 

There were only 10 seconds left, when they snapped the ball, Keenum threw a high pass to Diggs, who leaped in the air to catch it. Rookie Marcus Williams wiffed on the tackle and Diggs raced into the end zone for the improbable score. 
"This will take awhile to get over, but at some point it will pass, it will take a little bit of time," said Head Coach Sean Payton.  
New Orleans fought back from a 17-0 halftime deficit and had a 24-23 lead on a Will Lutz 42-yard field goal with 25 seconds left. 
"It will sting for a bit," said Saints QB Drew Brees. "Especially as this season goes on here over the next few weeks, feeling like that can be us, it should be us. Unfortunately sometimes these things happen." 
Brees threw two interceptions in the 1st half, but bounced back and threw three touchdown passes in the 2nd half. His third TD pass to Alvin Kamara for 14 yards, gave New Orleans a 21-20 lead late in the game. 
A blocked punt by George Johnson set up the score for the Saints to take its first lead of the game. 
Give credit to Keenum. The Vikings QB made the plays and he was under a lot of pressure in the 2nd half. The veteran threw for 318 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 
A key stat in this game was 3rd downs. The Vikings converted 10-of-17 third downs, including the winning touchdown pass. The Saints were just 2-of-9. 
Not converting on 3rd-and-1 on the Saints final drive of the game, allowed Minnesota to get the ball back for that miraculous touchdown.  
Kamara failed to convert on that 3rd and short. Once again, New Orleans had trouble running the ball. Just 80 yards rushing. Kamara had 43 yards rushing on 11 carries, while Mark Ingram was held to 10 carries to 25 yards.  
The Saints end the 2017 campaign with a 12-6 record. It will take a long time to get over this one.  


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It’s been a colder than normal winter to say the least in Louisiana and it might affect the insect population this summer. LSU Entomology Professor Timothy Schowalter says many tropical species in Louisiana are at the edge of the areas they normally inhabit and says the sudden cold weather didn’t help them.

"The gradual decline in temperature will allow more insects to go into overwintering mode.  Where has an early freeze would probably kill more insects."
Schowalter says it’s expected that there will be a reduction in mosquitoes this year since some adults were more than likely killed in the December cold snap.
"Any adults that were present in early December would have frozen and would have not laid any eggs.  There will be a hiatus in reproduction." 
Lovebugs will more than likely survive these recent cold snaps. Schowalter says they were long gone since they make their bi-yearly flights in April and October.
"Lovebug larvae are in the ground so they're probably going to survive fairly well.  The ground would have to freeze and inch or more in depth before Lovebug larvae would freeze."


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Sportsman will be unable to renew their hunting and fishing licenses at retail stores for two months starting January 30th while the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries transitions to a new system. Spokesperson Rene LeBreton says the state has a new vendor for licensing.

“In selecting this new vendor we’ve got some new equipment that needs to be installed at these locations, and they’ve got to train these employees at these stores.”

They will be available again at retail stores April 2nd.

LeBreton says the new system will be more convenient.

“Reprinting your licenses will be free by going to the website, they’ll have an auto renew option not immediately but down the road.”

LeBreton says LDWF is working towards tying together all of your licenses into one login in the future.

While retailers are training on the new system, licenses will still be available through the LDWF website, but LeBreton says he understands that not everyone is comfortable applying online…

“Some people are just adverse to online sales, so if you really are going to need one then go to your retailer now.”

Licenses will also be available at regional offices and LDWF headquarters. All license sales will be unavailable from January 30th to 31st.


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The Louisiana Family Forum is celebrating the 2018 Longest Married Couple in Louisiana. The reigning champions, Lawrence and Varrie Player will be celebrating their 83rd anniversary this year. Family Forum President Gene Mills says they get new applicants every year.

 “We’re in the search for the top ten longest known married couples. We want to honor the longest married, and we want to acknowledge the other ten, so this contest is renewed and refreshed every year.”

The forum celebrates each year’s top ten couples by passing on their stories. Mills says it’s easy to submit yours…

“Best thing to do is contact our office or go to our website and submit your information because there is a real possibility that they could be in line for a special celebration.”

The Family Forum honors the year’s top ten married couples during national marriage week, February 7th to 14th. Mills says over the years, couples have shared some great advice for keeping to “till death do us part”…

“I think it gives us an opportunity to reflect on what got them to the finish line.”

The deadline for submission is February 7th.


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26-year-old Neilson Rizzoto was sentenced to five years in prison today after plowing into a crowd of parade goers during last year’s Mardi Gras Endymion parade in New Orleans. The crash injured 32 people and police said Rizzuto had a .232 blood alcohol level. The court also is ordering him to attend AA and MADD meetings. Legal analyst Tim Meche says Rizzoto should be thankful he gets another chance…

"Fortunately it's a treatable problem that can be overcome and hopefully they made him commit to proper pursuing proper treatment and hopefully this won't happen again to other people."
He pled guilty to 11 felony counts of vehicular negligent injuring and 13 misdemeanor counts as well. He was facing a 55 year sentence. Meche says Rizzoto’s sentence is an example of the new criminal justice reform measures put in place last year. 
"It's starting to treat people who have issues and problems by treating their issues and problems, rather than locking them away costing taxpayers money.  He'll get a second chance, but not a third."
Rizzoto’s already served eleven months of his sentence will have to write apology letters to the victims.


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The Legislative Women’s Caucus is investigating to see if it is necessary to overhaul sexual harassment policies for the legislature and state government employees. Chairman and New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno finds it disturbing even though policies are in place, it’s hard to hold legislators accountable if they were accused of sexual harassment.

"Those policies are for full-time employees.  But guess what, legislators are part-time employees. Therefore, those rules are not applicable to members of the legislature."
Moreno says the current policies are antiquated and need to be brought up to date to ensure a comfortable and productive working environment. Her hope is if persons are found guilty of sexual harassment allegations, they will be held accountable. 
"Whether you're a legislator an intern, a full-time or a part-time employee, some will be facing consequences  if they act in this manner."
Moreno says the committee is also investigating to see if an online sexual harassment course that legislators are required to take is presented in a way that educates them enough to protect them and others they work with. 
"It's a quick and easy course. You have to take little quizzes and tests along the way and then pass a final test at the end.  I think that can also be improved as well." 


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A state lawmaker is proposing to change TOPS scholarship amounts. Students who meet the minimum eligibility would receive a $4,000 payment for the year, but students who achieve a very high ACT and GPA get a full scholarship, plus a stipend. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says $4,000 may seem low, but it’s still the most lucrative college tuition program in the U.S.

"These are students who are good students, but certainly not the best or the brightest.  They're also not being offered scholarships by out of state universities."
Morrish says a new structured plan would still benefit students with lower GPAs, but encourage very smart students to continue their education in Louisiana. His proposal would create a new “Honors Plus” program that would give out the best incentives to students. 
"These are the students that are being siphoned off because we haven't been able to keep up with out institutional aid and with our TOPS program.  This would give them tuition plus $2,500. 
Morrish is leading a task force that’s been examining the taxpayer funded program, which has become more difficult for the state to afford because of a variety of factors including higher tuition. He says his plan would save the state 20-million-dollars annually and modernize how the scholarship money should be doled out.
"If we go back to 1998, when TOPS was created, it certainly has served the citizens of Louisiana very well, but it's also a 20 year old model."


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LSU head coach Ed Orgeron introduced his new offensive coordinator today, Steve Ensminger. Ensminger is an old face around Tigers, having been with the team since 2011, and having captained LSU to three bowl games in the late 70s at quarterback. Ensminger got choked up as he was introduced…

“Great moments are born from great opportunities. This is my opportunity, I embrace it, I look forward to it, and I promise we’ll make this state proud.”

LSU’s motion offense was sluggish at times under former coordinator Matt Canada, and has ranked in the middle of the pack in the SEC over the last few years. Ensminger says he plans on running a fast paced, spread offense…

“We have to put three and four WRs on the field, we have to be a more fast ball team, I think we have to go no huddle. That’s the direction we are going and I think we have to put the best talent on the field and I think that will be three and four wideouts.”

The move was controversial, as the team went from a nationally respected offensive mind in Matt Canada, to Ensminger, who’s been coaching the team’s tight ends. Ensminger says he doesn’t let the chatter get to him…

“I had a guy call me last night and said did you read this in the paper, I said hell no I haven’t read the paper in 20 years. I don’t read the damn paper, I don’t go on twitter I don’t go on Facebook. I can let any outside influence say hey you’re not good enough and you can’t do this, bullshit, ok, I’ll do it.”

Ensminger was LSU’s interm offensive coordinator in 2016. His offense averaged 32 points a game.


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A major road construction project on I-10 will affect travelers between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Groundbreaking ceremonies are this afternoon for the project which will expand an over six mile stretch from four to six lanes from south of Baton Rouge to Highway LA-73 near Prairieville. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says this project won’t be completed until sometime in 2020.

"It's going to take a little over two years to get done.  Instead of going all the way to LA-73, they're going to break it up in segments.  So we think that may offer a little less frustration and congestion for drivers."
With 95-thousand drivers passing over that section of the road, Wilson says it is imperative that the flow of traffic continues through the construction zone as smoothly as possible. 
"We're always going to maintain two lanes of traffic except for some very unique circumstances maybe at bridges on a temporary basis, where they'll have to narrow it to one lane." 
The 72-million-dollar expansion comes from some repurposed earmarked funds from projects that either never happened or from leftover funds. Wilson says the majority of the money is due to the farsightedness of the Edwards Administration.
"We had some dollars that we were able to repurpose as the result of a Fast Lane grant  that Governor John Bel Edwards and I applied for very early in this administration."

Wilson reminds drivers to check 511la.org and to download the phone app for when you are on the go.



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Wildlife and Fisheries agents have arrested a Point Coupee Parish man for allegedly killing a protected black bear. The bear was a part of the Louisiana Black Bear Management and Research project. LDWF Spokesperson Adam Einck says agents responded after the tagged bear set off an alert…

“it set off a mortality signal basically saying it hadn’t moved in a number of days.”

After the bear was found, Wildlife and Fisheries agents increased patrols in the area. Einck says 28-year-old Ronald Kimble was frequently observed by agents passing through the area with a .270 rifle…

“They began questioning the man, found out he was a convicted felon, and after further questioning he finally owned up to it and said that he was the one that was responsible for killing that bear.”

Louisiana black bears have been a threatened species since 1992, and it is illegal to hunt them. Einck says the charges carry a severe punishment…

“Right now hes facing state charges of illegally killing a black bear which range up to a 1,000 dollars and 120 days in jail.”

Those who kill black bears are also liable to face a 10,000 dollar civil restitution fee, and as a convicted felon, Kimble could also be facing up to 20 years in jail for possessing a firearm.


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The Louisiana Association of Educators holds a rally this afternoon to show their support for Rene Rost middle school teacher Deyshia Hargrave. She was arrested Monday after criticizing a raise for the superintendent, while teacher’s wages have been stagnant for nearly a decade. LAE President Debbie Meaux says they are holding this rally to expose what school and governmental boards are doing.

"I think there is this trend amongst a lot of governmental bodies, to try to shut down or at least limit the ability of citizens to speak."
In a video shown on NBC’s Today show, it is clearly seen that Hargrave is being shut up by board President Anthony Fontana with him saying, “Alright. Stop. Stop right now”. Meaux says Fontana’s actions were completely out of line. 
"Taxpayer money is being used to pay them.  So they should be listening to their taxpayers.  I don't think that that happened for Deyshia and I think that in a lot of public meetings, that is not happening for a lot of our citizens."
Meaux says the LAE understands the role of the board president is to keep order during a meeting, but feels nothing occurred to demand the treatment Hargrave received from the Abbeville City Marshal Reginald “Reggie” Hilts as she was escorted out of the meeting. 
"There really was not disorder, not to the scale that required the kind of response it got."

The rally will be held at 3:45pm at Magdalen Square in downtown Abbeville.



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Get ready for a return of cold temperatures. A strong cold front will move through the state today, dropping temperatures and keeping highs below 50 degrees for the weekend. State Climatologist Barry Keim…

 “High temperatures today will be in the 60s and 70s but by tomorrow the temperatures will only be in the 40s so they’re going to drop about 25 or 30 degrees over what you’re going to experience today.”
The cold air is expected to stick around all weekend long, and keep temperatures in the 50s into next week. Keim says north Louisiana could be in for some particularly nasty freezes.
“Most of the state will see a freeze Sunday with the only exception being the coastal parishes, and the northern parishes will see a hard freeze.”
Snow is not projected despite the combination of freezing temperatures and precipitation. Keim says with that in mind, drivers in north Louisiana should be careful on the roads tonight.
“There is a slight chance of snow across northern parishes tonight, it’s a slight chance, but certainly something people should keep an eye out for a whole host of hazardous driving conditions.”
Temperatures should return to the 60s late next week.


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Who has the best King Cake in Louisiana? The website King Cake Snob is set to find out this carnival season. Jay Connaughton, CEO of Mandeville-based Innovative Advertising, says the competition will award the top “traditional” and “filled” King Cakes this year by separating the best of the best.

"To really find out from Louisianans what's their favorite King Cake, what is it that drives them to like that King Cake and really trying to find out the consumer insight is what absolutely is the best King Cakes out there."
The site for people to submit reviews is at king-cake-snob-dot-com. Connaughton says, when you go to the website you can also fill out a questionnaire to describe what type of King Cake you like the best. They have found interesting trends among the reviews.
"85 percent of people prefer for the bakery to add the baby as opposed forcing the customer to do it themselves.  63 percent prefer granulated sugar over no icing or just icing."  

Last year, cakes from over 250 cakes and 150 bakeries were reviewed by customers. New Orleans based bakery Manny Randazzo took the majority of the awards last year for Best “Traditional”, Best “Filled”, Best Presentation and Best Freshness. The Royal Bakery in Belle Chasse won for Best Flavor. He says there has been a lot of parity since they started the competition three years ago.

"What's interesting is we're getting different winners and that's really exciting because there's a lot of good King Cakes out there for everyone to enjoy during Mardi Gras season."


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The LSU basketball team continues to impress. The Tigers won their third straight road game on Wednesday as they went into Bud Walton Arena and completely dominated Arkansas 75-54. This was never really a game as LSU jumped out to a 19-5 lead and led 42-21 at halftime.

The Razorbacks made a run in the 2nd half and cut LSU's lead down to 12 with ten minutes, but the Tigers went on a 13-2 run to put the game away. 
The Hogs shot a season-low 33% from the field, while LSU shot a 53%. 
Four players scored in double figures for the Bayou Bengals led by Aaron Epps, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Skylar Mays and Randy Onwuasor each had 12 points. Duop Reath had 11 points and six rebounds. 
LSU did not the need the heroics from freshman Tremont Waters. But the point guard still had 8 points, along with five rebounds and eight assists. 
The Tigers are now 11-4, 2-1 in the SEC. The eleven wins surpasses last year's win total.
Coach Will Wade's exciting team will return to the PMAC on Saturday night to host Alabama for a 7:30 tip off.  


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Steve Ensminger is officially the new offensive coordinator of the LSU Tigers. Ensminger has been with the Tigers for the last eight years, most recently as the team’s tight end coach, and served as the interim offensive coordinator for the final eight games of the 2016 season.

With Ensminger calling plays, LSU set numerous records, including most yards in an SEC game and producing a 300-yard passer and 200-yard rusher in a same game. 

But despite this past record, Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran says many Tiger fans are not happy.

“It’s definitely going to be a move that is not going to be well received by fans in general. If Ensimger’s offense is successful and puts points on the board, it will be considered successful, and if they don’t, it will probably be the thing that ends Ed Orgeron’s time here at LSU.”
When Ensminger directed the offense, the team averaged 32 points per game.

The move reflects a major change in philosophy for head coach Ed Orgeron, who was hired with a mandate to bring on the nation’s most highly regarded, and highly paid coordinators. Former coordinator Matt Canada was one of the hottest hires on the market at the time, and Moran says fans are having a hard time buying into Ensminger.

“I think people have a hard time imagining that the best offensive coordinator in the country has been wasting away as a tight ends coach on LSU’s staff. I think there is a case to be made that if he is the solution to LSU’s quarterback problem, why hasn’t he been a part of the solution yet?” 
Ensminger is a former LSU quarterback who brought the team to three bowl games in the late 70s. 


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The elementary school teacher who was arrested after speaking out against the Vermilion Parish school superintendent’s raise has released a video statement. Deyshia Hargrave says by being asked to leave, the school board is attempting to silence an issue that effects the entire community.

"When you see something, you should say it's wrong, even though it doesn't involve you. This particular issue directly involved me, directly involved my students, my fellow educators and support staff, cafeteria workers, citizens outside of the school system even."
Many are speaking out against the treatment she received. Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards have watched the video and he says they don’t understand why the Marshal, identified as Reginald “Reggie” Hilts arrested her.
"She (The First Lady) let me know just how personally offended she was by how that played out.  And certainly it was unfortunate.  I didn't see anything that warranted that type of action."
Hargrave says even though she had to go through this embarrassing event, the outcome is better than she could have hoped for. 
"You shared things on social media, you got vocal.  And that is the most important thing.  So please don't let the conversation end with me."
The First Lady, a teacher herself, says this incident shows many aren’t respected and their talents need to be honored and respected. 
"Teachers do an amazing work every single day in the classroom and we really need to do a better job in promoting them in our communities and lifting them up and encouraging them as educators."
The Louisiana Association of Educators and Vermilion Association of Educators will host a Teacher Voice rally Thursday at 3:45pm in Abbeville. 


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The U-S Supreme Court is set to rule this year on New Jersey’s challenge to the prohibition against sports betting in all but four states. If the ban is overturned, a report says that Louisiana could be one of 18 states to file legislation to regulate sports betting...

Managing Director at Eilers and Krejick Gaming Chris Grove says his firm analyzed the different gaming players in Louisiana.

“We do expect that this will be a product that is controlled by the river boats in Louisiana, the casino operators.”

Louisiana’s legislative session begins in March, but there has not been any indications that a lawmaker is planning on filing a bill to legalize a bill in the state. Grove says placeholder legislation could be filed, while they wait for one of the three possible outcomes from the Supreme Court hearing.

“most people see three paths, either the supreme court upholds the status quo, the supreme court rules very narrowly, or the court could rule more broadly that PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) is unconstitutional.”
Sports gambling is a 225 million dollar taxable industry in Nevada, and Eilers and Krejick estimates that two point five to three billion dollars in illegal bets are placed every year. Grove says legalizing betting in Louisiana would be a budgetary and consumer safety boon.
"The argument goes that you are basically taking activities that are in a black market and you are moving them over to a regulated market where they can be taxed." 


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