Is Online Sports Betting Coming to Mississippi? House of Representatives Passes Sports Betting Bill

Legalization of online and mobile sports betting is one step closer in Mississippi, as the “Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act” passes the House and goes in front of the Senate.
By
February 05, 2024

House Bill 774, known as the “Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act,” was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 97-14 on Thursday, according to Mississippi Today.

The Bill, which aims to legalize online and mobile sports betting in the Magnolia State, is now on its way to the Senate. Its fortune will be decided ahead of the upcoming Super Bowl and March Madness, two of the most wagered on events in US sports.

H.B. 774, championed by Rep. Casey Eure, looks to tackle the problem of illegal gambling in the state of Mississippi and allow the state to collect taxes from the massive sports betting revenue that’s currently being picked up by offshore gambling operators who pay no taxes in the US.

In Eure’s words: “Mississippi is number one for illegal online sports betting in the country. Mississippi was the highest state for searches on illegal offshore accounts as a percentage of all Google searches.”

Amended Bill Passes the House

During Thursday’s session, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted on the amended H.B. 774, which included all the provisions necessary to launch the first legal sports betting sites in the state.

According to the Bill, any online betting operators looking to offer their services in Mississippi must tie themselves to a live casino property already operating within the state. Before that, the operators would have to acquire an operating license from the state’s gaming regulators.

Once launched, the operators would take a percentage of the revenue, but much of it would remain with local casino operators, creating new jobs and opportunities for the people of Mississippi.

At the same time, the bill was amended to include a 12% tax on gross revenue collected from online and mobile sports betting. According to estimations, Mississippi could collect as much as $50 million in taxes during the first year alone, and these funds could be used to support existing and new infrastructure projects state-wide.

Casino Operators to Run the Show

At this time, Mississippi has over 25 live casinos operating between the commercial and tribal ones, and they all offer sports betting on their premises. A few of these even offer mobile apps you can install and use to place bets within the property, but not once you leave.

One major concern regarding legalizing mobile sports betting was obviously that online betting operators would take revenue away from Mississippi casinos, but this problem was resolved by the tethering clause, which forces online operators to tether their licenses to a live casino venue.

According to H.B. 774, each live casino would get to partner with exactly one online betting operator, which means we could see upwards of two dozen online betting operators run in Mississippi in theory.

However, it is more realistic to see the major betting platforms like FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM swoop in and take the majority share of the market, with a few smaller betting apps competing for the remainder.

In either case, Mississippi live casinos would be protected if the Bill passes the Senate, which looks more likely than not at this time. Other forms of online gambling, such as online casinos and poker games, are not up for discussion at this time, leaving the sweepstakes poker sites as the only option for online poker players in the state.

Eure reminded the legislators that the Georgia Senate just passed online sports betting legislation on Thursday as well and that Alabama is looking to introduce a gaming legislation package soon, hinting at Mississippi potentially being left behind as legal sports betting continues to spread throughout the country and now covers 38 states and counting.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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