Bill In Mississippi Legislature Would Allow Mobile Sports Wagering

Betting currently only offered onsite at casinos

On the first workday of 2022, a Mississippi lawmaker introduced a bill that would allow adult residents and visitors to place sports bets from their smartphones.

The bill was one of eight measures introduced on Monday by Rep. Cedric Burnett, a 55-year-old Democrat who has served in the Mississippi House of Representatives since 2016. While Mississippi was one of the first states to offer legal sports betting following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark May 2018 ruling that voided the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the new law came with a “catch.”

States such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey get slightly more than 90% of their sports betting handle from the internet, greatly boosting the amount of tax revenue going to those states. But in Mississippi, bettors can currently only wager at the state’s casinos and not online, costing the state and operators substantial revenue.

As Louisiana goes, so goes …?

While similar bills have languished in the Jackson statehouse each of the last three years, there may be more urgency this time around. That’s because neighboring Louisiana opened the door to sports betting at casinos in November, and lawmakers there hope to launch the mobile version within a couple of weeks.

That launch no doubt would lure some Mississippians across the border to set up accounts in Louisiana.

The legislative calendar in Mississippi that kicked off Monday concludes on April 3. According to the text of the bill, “This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.”

Casey Eure, chair of the House Gaming Committee, said in November that he wants a provision similar to that in other states — such as Michigan or New Jersey — where mobile sportsbooks can open up only in partnership with existing casinos (or racetracks) in the state. FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM already have partnerships with Mississippi casinos, so none of them figure to face any obstacles.

“I want to make sure we protect our bricks and mortar [casinos],” Eure told WTOK, pointing to the hundreds of millions of dollars the casinos have spent to develop and maintain their properties.

Burnett’s bill allows for the standard potpourri of wagers: single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under lines, moneyline bets, in-game wagering, and in-play bets.

John Brennan

John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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