The Mississippi Gaming Commission approved sports betting regulations Thursday and the state could open for business in as little as 30 days. The Magnolia State did not need to pass new legislation to make MS sports betting legal after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14. Rather, state regulators only needed to work with stakeholders and develop a framework.
The rules, which are available on the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s website, cover everything from definitions of sports betting terms to how to pay out wagers. The 22-page document makes no allowance for an “integrity fee” or royalty to be paid out the professional sports leagues. The pro leagues, led by Major League Baseball and the NBA have been lobbying states across the nation to essentially pay them to monitor the integrity of the game. When Mississippi sports betting begins, the state will become the third (separate from Nevada) to offer legal sports betting, behind Delaware and New Jersey. That assumes it beats West Virginia to the punch, which now appears likely.
“The tax rate on [on sports betting revenues] will be 12 percent — 8 percent going to the state, 4 percent local tax, which is the same as every other gaming tax in Mississippi,” Allen Godfrey, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told Sports Handle on Thursday.
With New MS Sports Betting Regulations, Bettors Will Be Able to Bet on Mississippi and Mississippi State Games.
It also appears that Mississippi will allow wagers to be placed on collegiate teams that reside within the Magnolia State. This is a departure from the rules in both Delaware and New Jersey, which both explicitly prohibit sports wagering on local teams. However, the state of Pennsylvania, which passed a sports betting law in 2017, is allowing for sports betting on Pennsylvania-based collegiate teams under its temporary regulations. The state has been blasted by colleges for allowing collegiate sports betting.
Mississippi has several big-time college football programs, including SEC members Mississippi and Mississippi State. The language in the regulations that appears to allow betting on Mississippi college teams is under “Rule 3.11 Prohibited Wagers,” which reads:
“No wagers may be accepted or paid by any book on:
- Any amateur sport or athletic event other than;
- Olympic sporting or athletic events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, subject to limitation by the Executive Director or the Executive or the Director’s designee in his sole and absolute discretion, and
- Collegiate sporting or athletic events.”
Regarding collegiate sports, Godfrey said prohibiting wagering on local university sports “is not a particular concern down here.”
He also quipped, “Tell me that people are not already betting on these games all over the place, anyways.”
MS Sports Betting to Include Online/Mobile Wagering, But Only if Bettor Is On-Site at at Brick-and-Mortar Casino.
Other areas of particular interest:
- Under Rule 3.11 Prohibited Wagers, bets may not be placed on political elections;
- Under Rule 3.15 Sports Pool or Race Book Wagering by Electronic Means, mobile or internet betting is allowed “only within an approved casino and hotel facility on mobile devices as approved by the Executive Director”; and
- Under Rule 3.19 Sports Integrity, licensees will be responsible for their own integrity monitoring.
In a rural state such as Mississippi, a limitation to sports wagering on-premises is a sure-fire way to keep residents in the black market.
Regulations were passed with the goal of having sports betting live in Mississippi with within 30 days and certainly before the 2018 college football season. At least two casinos, both owned by MGM Resorts International, will be ready to go.
In addition, on May 31, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, owner the Pearl River and Bok Homa casinos, voted to amend their tribal regulations to introduce sports betting, and plans to do so this summer.
The Choctaw do not have any relationship with the state and pay a sales tax, but these rules do not apply to them. In other words, they can proceed with sports betting as they wish.
Mississippi has about 30 commercial casinos on the coast in the southern part of the state – some only an hour driving distance from New Orleans – and along the Mississippi River. It also has three tribal casinos, the two at the Pearl River Resort and one near Heidelberg.