A second sports betting bill was introduced in Jackson, marking a pivotal step towards the legalization of mobile sports wagering in Mississippi.
The proposed legislation aims to create a legal framework that would allow bettors to engage in sports betting activities through mobile platforms, offering convenience and accessibility to Mississippi residents and visitors alike.
The bill, H.B. 635, was introduced by Republican Rep. Jay McKnight on Wednesday.
Serving as the Vice Chairman of the gaming committee, McKnight’s bill hopes to lay the groundwork for potential changes in the state’s approach towards mobile sports betting.
He previously served on Mississippi’s Mobile-Online Sports Betting Task Force, actively contributing for most of the last year alongside lawmakers to address issues related to online wagering. As one of the key members of the task force, he played a key role in the report presented to the House of Representatives in December.
After its introduction, the proposed bill was referred to the committee vice-chaired by McKnight for further deliberation and examination.
The most recent proposal aligns closely with the previous bill, H.B. 271, introduced just a week ago, signaling a concerted effort to pave the way for Mississippi mobile sports betting.
Rep. Cedric Burnett spearheaded the initial H.B. 271 bill, outlining a blueprint for mobile sports wagering within Mississippi. Building on the foundation laid by Burnett, McKnight has now presented his iteration of the legislation.
Mississippi Sports Betting Proposed Bills
H.B. 365, mirroring H.B. 271, allows all licensed casinos in the state to launch their own mobile sportsbook or partner with already existing sportsbooks like FanDuel, DraftKings, ESPN Bet, Caesar Sportsbook, and others.
The proposed legislation suggests a tiered tax rate model linked to the monthly gross sports betting revenue generated by licensed operators in the state. The recommended tax rates comprise 4% of gross revenue under $50,000 per month, 6% of gross revenue above $50,000 but under $134,000 per month, and 8% of gross revenue above $134,000 per month.
If approved, both bills aim to come into effect on July 1, potentially paving the way for statewide mobile sports betting in Mississippi ahead of the NFL season kickoff.
The Mobile-Online Task Force addressed concerns raised by independent casino operators in their December report, as regards the potential negative impacts online sports betting might have on their businesses.
“New sports bettors would be composed of those not currently betting who would opt to bet because of the convenience and accessibility of online sports betting,” the task force’s report read.
“The convenience of online betting may also appeal to those who would not drive to Vicksburg, the Delta, or the Mississippi coast to place a bet, but regularly partake in local office or friend pools. Illegal sports bettors may also opt to enter the legal market.”
Mississippi’s Current Sports Betting Landscape
Since its legalization in Aug. 2018, retail casinos have thrived in the Magnolia State, boasting an impressive 28 commercial casinos.
Despite this flourishing land-based casino scene, Mississippi’s online sports betting industry remains relatively underdeveloped, offering a limited array of options for bettors seeking the convenience of online wagering.
While online sports betting is operational in Mississippi, the current operational framework restricts bettors to utilizing a single online sports betting operator within the state. Furthermore, all wagers must be placed in person at the venues exclusively owned by licensed retail casinos.
BetMGM currently enjoys a monopoly as the sole online sports betting operator in the state of Mississippi. Those interested in registering with BetMGM must physically visit the locations where BetMGM operates to create an account.
Presently, BetMGM’s operations extend to prominent establishments such as the Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, various Pearl River Resort sites, and the Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel in Biloxi. This exclusive arrangement places BetMGM in a unique position within the Mississippi sports betting landscape.