Online Sports Betting In Mississippi Gets Fresh Push With New Bill
David Caraviello | 3 mins
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Once one of the forerunners in sports wagering after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nationwide ban on the practice, sports betting in Mississippi is suddenly falling behind - even in its own region.
With Louisiana sports betting expected to phase-in mobile wagering during the month of January and Arkansas debating a mobile sports betting framework, the pressure grows on Mississippi to keep pace. Toward that end, state House member Cedric Burnett introduced a bill in Monday’s opening session of the state legislature that would permit mobile betting in Mississippi.
After the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May of 2018, Mississippi embraced sports betting by legalizing the retail version of the practice just a few months later. But mobile sports betting can be done only from the physical grounds of a casino in the Magnolia State - a stark contrast from other states that allow mobile sports betting anywhere within their borders.
2022 Brings New Urgency For Mississippi
Burnett’s bill, H.B. 184, aims to bring Mississippi in line with other states by allowing gaming operators to “accept wagers placed from sports pool wagering accounts through digital platforms, provided such wagers are initiated, received and made within Mississippi,” according to the text of the bill.
Should it pass, the act would take effect on July 1, 2022, the bill states. It has been referred to the House Gaming and Ways and Means committees for further consideration.
Similar bills have failed in each of the past three years in Mississippi. But 2022 brings new urgency, with Mississippi at risk of losing betting dollars to its immediate neighbors. To the south, Louisiana is preparing for a staggered mobile launch in January. To the west, Arkansas Racing Commission members last week voted unanimously to move forward with statewide rules for mobile sports betting, bringing the practice closer to reality in the Natural State.
To the north, Tennessee has allowed mobile sports betting since Nov. 1, 2020. Once Arkansas and Louisiana inevitably move forward with mobile sports betting, likely sometime this year, Mississippi risks becoming an outlier in an age where states routinely see more than 90 percent of sports betting done over mobile or online platforms. Among other states expected to launch in 2022, New York sports betting is set to be one of the largest markets and is targeting a launch before the Super Bowl.
Why Does Mississippi Not Have Mobile Sports Betting Yet?
Attempts to expand sports betting in Mississippi died last year in legislative committees. One holdup seems to be a desire among lawmakers to ensure that retail casinos are not placed at a disadvantage to digital platforms. “I want to make sure we can protect our bricks and mortar,” House gaming committee chair Casey Eure told WLOX-TV of Biloxi in November of 2021.
The foot-dragging on statewide mobile betting stands in contrast to Mississippi’s history as a gaming forerunner, dating back to Gulf coast casinos that were allowed to operate in the 1930s. The state formally legalized gambling in 1990, with the creation of casino districts around Biloxi on the coast and Tunica in the state’s northwest corner.
When PASPA was struck down, Mississippi wasted little time in adding retail sportsbooks to its gaming portfolio. But mobile sports gaming and sports betting apps have proven to be a particularly prickly thorn for the Magnolia State, which is suddenly in danger of being left behind - and seeing valuable tax revenue flow across its borders.