Posted on: December 18, 2023, 03:56h.
Last updated on: December 18, 2023, 03:56h.
Experts are predicting that Mississippi will once again consider legalizing online sports betting in the new year. However, they warn that this same goal has been unsuccessful multiple times in the past.
Republican Casey Eure, chair of the House Gaming Committee, is planning to introduce a bill to permit mobile sports betting in 2024.
Rep. Eure (R-Saucier) made his intentions clear during the final 2023 meeting of the legislature’s Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force, but there are still considerable uncertainties about the potential form of legal online sports betting in Mississippi.
Jay McDaniel, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, has noted that bills have been proposed annually since 2018, but none have managed to move out of committee for floor debate.
“Your guess is as good as mine as to whether we’ll get to that,” McDaniel Said. “So, I think you can expect in January to see a bill. The question will be whether that bill actually comes out of a committee for debate to be passed.”
Democratic Senator David Blount, also a task force member, emphasizes that any legislative action should safeguard the existing gaming industry in the state.
“My primary interest as it relates to gaming in Mississippi, is to protect the jobs of tens of thousands of Mississippians who work in this important business that has a big economic impact,” Blount said. “How will that be affected by betting on cell phones?”
The Mississippi Legislature’s 2024 regular session will begin at noon on January 2. The deadline for introducing general bills is February 19.
Regulations and Opposition Take Shape
Mississippi was among the first states in the US to legalize sports betting following the US Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision. As reported by Casino.org, some panel members are not convinced of the need to expand Mississippi’s gaming industry to include online betting.
There are concerns among some lawmakers that mobile sports betting will impact the state’s casino industry, which collected more than $272 million in tax revenue in FY 2023.
Mississippi casinos are also at odds with lawmakers regarding online sports betting efforts. Brick-and-mortar casinos are the most vocal critics of online sports betting in Mississippi.
Pearl River Resort Race and Sportsbook Director Chris Hopwood is among the casino officials who have urged lawmakers to oppose expanding sports betting. Hopwood believes such actions would be detrimental to physical casinos and lead to revenue leaving the state.
Supporters Make Their Case
Over two dozen casinos in Mississippi, some managed by Penn Entertainment and Caesars, have voiced their support for online sports betting. They argue that bettors are already heading to neighboring states like Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana, where online betting is legal.
Rep. Eure stated that his goal was to “protect bricks and mortar.”
The Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force is expected to deliver its findings to the state legislature by December 15.