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Mississippi lawmakers working on new mobile betting bill

Sports betting ready in Mississippi

Last week, the Mississippi House Gaming Committee revealed that it is drafting a bill to legalize mobile betting outside of the state’s casinos.

The legislation seeks to allow online operators to apply for licenses to run mobile sportsbooks in the jurisdiction through partnerships with brick-and-mortar casinos. This means that the 26 licensed venues across the state can team up with third-party businesses to launch online sports wagering platforms and betting apps if the bill is approved by the Mississippi legislature.

In his comments about the proposed bill, the Committee Chair, Representative Casey Eure, said that making it mandatory for online operators to align with physical casinos was necessary to protect the state’s land-based gaming facilities. The tethering framework is also used in New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.

“When we pass mobile sports betting, we’ll do it the right way. I want to make sure we can protect our brick and mortar. If they want to team up with DraftKings and FanDuel, that’s fine,” said Eure.

“My plans are to pass something out of my committee. If the House and Senate pass a mobile sports betting app bill and Gov. Tate Reeves signs it, the Mississippi Gaming Commission can then include online wagering in its regulations.”

The Committee is working on having a ready bill by the start of the next legislative session, which commences on January 1.

Will the MGHA support the measure?

Rep. Eure’s proposed legislation is not Mississippi’s first attempt at legalizing statewide mobile sports gambling. The state, which authorized physical sportsbooks in 2018, has seen several efforts seeking to expand the market but none have come to fruition.

In January this year, for example, three online betting bills introduced in the state legislature did not make it past committee stage.

SEE ALSO: OUR GUIDE TO GAMBLING IN MISSISSIPPI

Part of the reason why Mississippi has failed to legislate mobile sportsbooks is opposition from the state’s licensed casino operators, who are concerned that legalizing online wagering might have a negative impact on their businesses.

This time, however, Rep. Eure’s committee is keen on getting the casinos on board and convincing them to support the measure. The lawmaker has revealed that he is in talks with Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association (MGHA) Executive Director Larry Gregory for consultation on the language of the bill.

Time to pick up the pace

Despite being among the first precincts to allow regulated sportsbooks after the repeal of the 1992 PASPA law by the US Supreme Court in May 2018, the Magnolia State continues to lose out on millions in tax dollars every year due to its hesitation to allow mobile betting outside of licensed casinos.

Online wagering has proved to be the lifeblood of the regulated US sports betting industry, and any state keen on having its finger in the pie must embrace the market. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for example, more than 90% of the sports betting handle comes from mobile bettors.

Lack of mobile sportsbook options could also encourage sports fans in Mississippi to cross the border to place online bets in neighboring states where the market is legal. Tennessee, which borders MS to the north, rolled out internet wagering in November last year. Louisiana is also set to launch mobile betting by January 2022.

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