Committee Keeps Mississippi Online Sports Betting Bill Alive

Committee Keeps Mississippi Online Sports Betting Bill Alive
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The sun has not set on a southern state to legalize online sports betting in 2024, thanks to some quick work Tuesday by a Mississippi legislative committee.

Facing an end-of-the-day deadline to approve, the Senate Gaming Committee voted to advance an amended version of House Bill 774 to the Senate floor in a Tuesday morning meeting that did not last two minutes.

Committee Chair David Blount, D-Jackson, told members their vote was to keep the Mississippi sports betting bill alive.

“I'm told there are people who have been on opposite sides of this issue in the past that are talking, and I think, as far as I know, working in good faith to try to come up with a proposal to share with us,” Blount said. “I have not been involved in looking at that, but if people were talking, that's a good thing. We want to continue to let them do that.”

According to the Mississippi Legislature’s calendar, the Senate has until April 11 to pass the bill. The House would then need to approve or reject the Senate’s changes by April 19.

The Mississippi legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 5.

In-Person Mississippi Wagering Legal Since 2018

Mississippi was one of the first states to allow sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) nearly six years ago. Mississippi casinos opened their brick-and-mortar sportsbooks on Aug. 1, 2018 – 26 years to the day after the first gaming venues opened in the state. 

But Mississippi’s law limited wagering to those 26 casinos, and online betting could only take place on the casino’s grounds. Many other states have since approved online sports betting, so Mississippi fell behind then in revenue generated from sports wagering. Talks regarding the expansion of sports betting in the Magnolia State never progressed much. But last year, the legislature approved a bill that established a task force of state officials and gaming leaders to discuss the matter.

This year, HB 774 was filed by House Gaming Committee Chair Casey Eure, R-Saucier, based on recommendations that task force devised. Under the House version of the bill, each Mississippi casino could partner with an online sports betting operator, such as FanDuel, BetMGM or DraftKings. It would maintain the state’s age limit for wagering at 21.

That proposal passed the House two months ago with a 98-14 vote. It will need a three-fifths majority to advance out of the Senate. That means 32 of the 52 members must vote yes.

Small Casinos Worry About Lost Traffic

The main concern mentioned by opponents is that online sports betting apps could take away business from brick-and-mortar casinos. Smaller casinos in rural parts of the state would likely be hit hardest, those individuals claimed, unless they partnered with one of the online giants.

But with the bill still alive, sports betting proponents can hope that at least one state will legalize online wagering this year. A bill calling for a referendum died at the end of the Georgia General Assembly’s last week. And Alabama’s state Senate watered down an omnibus gaming bill that the House passed in February by keeping just a proposed amendment for a state lottery.

Another southern state, North Carolina, legalized sports betting last year and its program launches on March 11. Follow for further developments and to see how Mississippi casino revenue in February compared to the previous month.

USA Today photo by Petre Thomas



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.