Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Jay McDaniel said recently on The Gallo Radio Show that legalization begins with the Senate or House gaming committees. Neither has approved a mobile sports betting bill.
The House Ways and Means Committee also has jurisdiction over sports betting in Mississippi. A mobile sports betting proposal sponsored by State Rep. Cedric Burnett (D) of Tunica is now before that committee for consideration during the 2022 Mississippi regular legislative session, which began today.
No vote had been taken on the proposal as of this afternoon.
Whenever a bill to legalize mobile sports betting does pass the legislature, McDaniel says his agency is ready.
“As far as the commission’s position, it’s always been ‘if they pass it, we’ll regulate it,’” McDaniel said on the radio show.
Obstacles To Passage
While retail sports betting was legalized in Mississippi shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018, McDaniel said state lawmakers and casinos are still warming up to the idea of mobile sports betting.
State lawmakers starting looking at legalizing mobile back in 2019, when McDaniel said two bills were filed but never made it to the Senate or House floor.
One reason for the hold-up has been casino opposition. Although a growing number of the state’s 26 commercial casinos are on board with legalizing mobile, McDaniel says support isn’t at 100 percent.
“That’s kind of the problem is that not all of them want it,” although it’s already happening illegally through unregulated sportsbooks, McDaniel said.
Legalization, he added, would allow casinos and the state to both benefit.
“It would certainly help at least to take away that illegal market. If you give someone a legal product I think they’re going to choose that over an illegal one,” said McDaniel.
When Could Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Launch?
Launching mobile sports betting in Mississippi, says McDaniel, shouldn’t take long once a bill becomes law.
MGM’s Beau Rivage Casino and Resort in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino in Tunica recently launched a mobile app on-site that allows patrons to bet by phone inside the casinos, said McDaniel.
“They’ve kind of done that in preparation so if a bill goes statewide, they can just turn the switch and go statewide,” he added.
“Most of our operators already do (mobile) in another state. So if it were to pass, it would not be very difficult to get up and running,” said McDaniel.