Plans for Mississippi Sports Betting Back on the Menu for 2024 Session

Grant Mitchell
By:
Grant Mitchell
10/26/2023
Legal
Phone White Screen for Sports

Highlights

  • HB 606, passed last year, created the Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Task Force
  • Mississippi legalized retail-only sports betting in 2018
  • More than 1.7 million geo-checks have come from Mississippians attempting to access sportsbooks in other states

A Mississippi Representative announced during a Tuesday meeting that they will introduce a new sports betting bill when the state returns for its 2024 legislative session on Jan. 2.

Casey Eure (R) said to 11 members of the Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Task Force that he plans to follow up on his failed sports betting bill from last year, HB 606. The bill was created with the intent of legalizing sports wagering but was later amended and led to the creation of the task force.

State lawmakers still have reservations about adopting a new piece of legislation because of several key sticking points.

Mounting another push

Eure’s plan is to move with intent and get the ball rolling early once the new legislative period begins.

“I can’t sit here and tell you that this will pass the House, that I will be able to send it to the Senate,” said Eure. “I wanted everyone to understand where I stood from day one.

Mississippi legalized retail sports betting in August 2018 but is still yet to pass a mobile or online sports betting bill. Customers can only place wagers from their phones when they are within the confines of authorized retail wagering facilities.

The task force was created with the goal of finding the answer to several key questions, including what the tax rate on sportsbook revenues would be, how licenses would be approved and disseminated, if there would be advertising directions, and how illegal outfits would be punished.

Part of Tuesday’s debate was spent going over the pros and cons of different approaches and methods of legalizing the practice.

Mississippi’s neighbors Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee allow online sports betting. Only Alabama, which has not legalized any form of sports wagering, does not.

Sen. David Blunt (D-29) encouraged members of the committee to study standards and regulations in other states with legal sports betting to help plot the best course for Mississippi.

The task force has already agreed that any bill put before the state Congress will stipulate that any external online operators be partnered with local casinos, and that the topic of iGaming will not be broached in combination with sports betting.

Climate for change

According to John Pappas, SVP of Government & Public Affairs for geo-location services company GeoComply, more than 64,000 sportsbook accounts were responsible for over 1.72 million geolocation checks in attempts to access betting platforms in other states.

Almost 68% attempted to access Tennessee sportsbooks, while another 27.7% made futile efforts to bet on Louisiana sportsbooks.

All users were denied the opportunity, but the numbers reflect the want and desire for Mississippi to add online sports betting to its list of available attractions.

“In many cases, we see them traveling across state lines. We’ve seen multiple thousands of attempts where people try to travel into Tennessee and Louisiana to place a bet because they’re unable to within Mississippi,” said Pappas.

Susan Varnes, the CEO of Treasure Bay Casino and Resort, said that her casino enjoyed a 6% increase after retail sports betting was legalized. However, she’s fearful that the addition of online sportsbooks could lead to a decline in the profitability of traditional casino gaming, as well as the other amenities inside the property.

“This unfettered growth will be dominated by a few operators, and our chance to compete with that is zero,” Palace Casino General Manager Keith Crosby added.

Mississippi is the poorest state in the country, according to the poverty rate. Nearly one in five (19.58%) households fall below the national poverty line. Nearby Louisiana is second at 18.65%.

Despite that, Mississippi sportsbooks have accepted more than $2.3 billion in sports bets and generated $265.9 million in revenue since 2018.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.