Mississippi lawmakers are making moves to legalize online sports wagering in the state, with multiple bills being presented to pave the way for this expansion. Rep. Casey Eure is expected to lead the charge, with other legislators also getting involved.
Last week, Democrat Rep. Cedric Burnett introduced HB 271, which would legalize online sports betting in Mississippi. This week, Republican Rep. Jay McKnight submitted HB 635, which would allow for mobile wagering. Both bills would allow pre-existing license holders to offer online sports wagering.
Mississippi’s sports wagering market officially launched in 2018, with only geo-fenced online sportsbooks permitted on casino premises. The industry believes that Mississippi is one of the states most likely to pass a sports wagering bill this year.
In preparation for potential legalization, the Mississippi Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force has been gathering recommendations and information for online expansion. The task force was formed after Eure’s sports wagering bill last year sparked discussion on the topic.
The two proposed legislations seek to amend the Gaming Control Act to allow gaming operators to launch their own sportsbooks or partner with an operator. There are currently twenty-six casinos in the state. Additionally, the bills would lift a ban on daily fantasy sports operators providing contests based on individual college athletes.
The tax structure proposed in the bills is multi-level, based on the income generated from online sports wagering. The highest tax rate is 8%, in line with the task force’s recommendation and in-person sports wagering.
Not all casino operators are on board with the expansion of online sports wagering, with some fearing it could impact their revenue. Independent operators are concerned that larger operators will dominate the market. Legislators have expressed sympathy for these concerns.
The recent presidential election has also caused worry among industry stakeholders, who fear that politics could disrupt sports wagering and demand bipartisan collaboration. Overall, there are mixed opinions and concerns surrounding the potential legalization of online sports wagering in Mississippi.