The topic of online sports betting in Mississippi is expected to be at the forefront of discussions in the upcoming year. The chair of the House Gaming Committee, Republican Casey Eure, has revealed his plans to introduce a bill legalizing mobile sports betting during the 2024 session. However, there are still many unanswered questions about what the legalization of this form of gambling would entail in Mississippi.
Jay McDaniel, the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, acknowledges that similar bills have been introduced yearly since 2018, but none have made it out of committee for an actual floor debate. He expressed uncertainty about whether a bill legalizing online sports betting would come out of committee for debate and passage in the upcoming year.
Democratic Senator David Blount, another member of the task force, emphasized the importance of protecting the state’s existing gaming industry and the jobs it provides. He expressed concerns about the potential impact of mobile sports betting on the industry and its thousands of employees.
With the Mississippi Legislature’s 2024 regular session set to commence in January, the future of online sports betting in the state remains uncertain. The deadline for the introduction of general bills is in February 2024, providing a limited window for discussions and decision-making.
Despite the potential benefits of online sports betting, there are also concerns and opposition within the state. Some lawmakers and the Mississippi Gaming Commission worry that mobile sports wagering could compromise the state’s established destination gaming industry, which has been a significant source of tax revenue. The state’s land-based casinos, the most vocal opponents of online sports betting, fear that such a move would harm their businesses and cause revenue to flow out of the state.
In contrast, casino operators like Penn Entertainment and Caesars support online sports betting, as they have seen bettors leave for neighboring states where it is already legal. They argue that legalizing mobile sports betting in Mississippi would help protect brick-and-mortar casinos and prevent revenue loss to other states.
As the debate rages on, the findings of the Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force are expected to be presented to the state legislature by December 15, providing valuable insights that could influence the upcoming discussions on the topic.