Mississippi is making significant strides in the movement to legalize online sports wagering, with lawmakers introducing multiple pieces of legislation to make it happen. Representative Casey Eure is at the forefront of this push, with other lawmakers like Democrat Rep. Cedric Burnett and Republican Rep. Jay McKnight submitting their own bills to enable mobile wagering.
Both HB 271 and HB 635 aim to legalize online sports wagering for pre-existing license holders in Mississippi. This move is seen as a potential game-changer for the state, which started allowing sports betting in 2018 but only on casino premises. Industry stakeholders believe Mississippi is highly likely to pass a sports wagering bill this year, making it one of the frontrunners in the country.
The Mississippi Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force has been gathering information and recommendations to guide the expansion of online sports wagering. Rep. Eure, who was instrumental in forming the task force, has been vocal about his support for online sports betting, stating that he will use the information collected to design his legislation. He has also been transparent about the challenges the bill may face in the legislative process.
The proposed bills aim to revise the Gaming Control Act to allow gaming operators to launch their own sportsbooks or partner with an operator. The legislation also addresses the tax structure for online sports wagering, with a multi-level tax plan based on income generated from sports betting. The state could potentially collect up to $27.1 million in tax revenue per year from online sports wagering.
However, there is some opposition to the expansion of online sports wagering, particularly from smaller, independent casino operators who fear it could negatively impact their revenue. Lawmakers have expressed concerns about protecting the state’s destination gaming market and ensuring that the expansion doesn’t favor larger operators. The recent presidential election has also raised worries about potential political disruptions to the sports wagering efforts, requiring bipartisan collaboration to move forward.
Despite the challenges, the momentum for online sports wagering in Mississippi is strong, with lawmakers and industry stakeholders working to address concerns and move the legislation forward. The state is poised to become a key player in the national sports wagering landscape if these bills are successfully passed.