After the U.S Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in June 2018, Mississippi was one of the quickest states to act. Legal, regulated Mississippi sports betting came after Delaware and New Jersey, making Mississippi the third state to launch after PASPA was struck down. However, that legalization in Mississippi was restricted to gambling that could be done on the properties of the state’s casinos.
Today, after more than 20 states have legalized mobile sports betting, Mississippi is still struggling to move ahead with online sports betting. But a possible breakthrough recently occurred in the state House of Representatives.
House Bill 606 overwhelmingly passed in the Mississippi House on Feb. 9. The bill would establish a task force to study legalizing online betting that, interestingly, appears to include both sports gambling and casino gambling.
Current Mississippi Sports Betting Restricted
Customers are now largely restricted to making sports bets in person at one of the Mississippi casinos’ retail sportsbooks. Some casinos allow mobile sports bets that are made on the casino property, such as from a hotel room.
Over the years, there has been discussion in the Mississippi legislature to add mobile sports gambling but any attempts have failed as lawmakers have been content to keep the sports gambling action mostly inside the casinos. And any thought to legalize online casino gambling, or iGaming, has gained no traction in a state with 26 commercial and three tribal casinos.
In the December Mississippi casino revenue report, the state made about $11.3 million from sports betting from a handle of more than $74 million. In 2022, Mississippi sports betting revenue exceeded $60 million with handle at about $532 million for the year,
To be clear, Mississippi’s discussions about online gambling have been focused on sports betting, but HB 606 appears to be more broadly worded.
Wording of Mississippi HB 606
The bill that passed the House would create “the Mobile-Online Betting Task Force to undertake a comprehensive analysis of all matters related to legalizing online betting, online gaming … and to recommend the proper oversight and regulation of the online betting, online gaming and/or online wagering.”
Of course, the task force could limit its study to strictly sports wagering.
The task force will be chaired by the House Gaming Committee chairperson and co-chaired by the Senate Gaming Committee chairperson. The body is to include 11 members, including representatives from the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Department of Revenue and others.
The measure establishing the task force still must make its way through the Mississippi State Senate. If all goes smoothly, online sports wagering isn’t expected to have a chance of being launched in the state until at least 2024.
The task force is supposed to submit a final report its of findings and recommendations to the legislature by Oct. 15, 2023.