The Mississippi House Gaming Committee has approved a bill that would bring mobile sports betting one step closer to being legalized in the state. The bill, known as HB 774 or the “Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act,” would allow online sports betting but would require bettors to use online services from existing casinos.
The primary sponsor of the bill is Rep. Casey Eure, who emphasized the importance of protecting physical casinos in the state. Eure stated, “The number one goal is to protect our brick-and-mortar buildings… Every mobile sports wager will be tied to a brick-and-mortar building.”
The proposed legislation would also require online sportsbooks like DraftKings or FanDuel to partner with a physical casino before customers can participate in mobile betting. Additionally, the bill includes a 12% tax on sports wagers, with 4% going towards the local municipality where the sponsor casino is located, and 8% going to the state.
Despite the progress of HB 774, there are concerns and opposition from various parties. Some lawmakers are worried that smaller casinos could be crowded out of the market by larger casinos more quickly partnering with sports betting outfits. Additionally, Mississippi casinos as a whole remain at odds with lawmakers and oppose the expansion of sports betting in the state.
However, Eure believes that legalizing mobile sports betting would help undercut the influence of illegal offshore sports betting platforms in Mississippi. He estimates that the bill could generate between $25 million and $35 million in revenue during the first year if enacted. Eure also noted that illegal betting sites see about $64 billion in wagers each year, with Mississippi making up 5% of that market, which is roughly $3 billion in illegal bets.
The bill now moves to the 122-member House Chamber for a potential vote, following the approval by the House Gaming Committee. If passed, it will then move to the Senate for consideration. If any amendments are made to the bill, it would need to go back to the House for approval. Ultimately, the fate of mobile sports betting in Mississippi will be decided through the legislative process in the coming weeks.