The Mississippi House of Representatives passed the “Mobile Sports Wagering Act” on Thursday in a 97-14 vote. If endorsed by the Senate and signed by Governor Tate Reeves, House Bill 774 would authorize statewide online sports betting. According to current legislation, residents of Mississippi can place online wagers only if they are at a land-based gambling location.
Based on estimations by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, if the state authorizes online sports wagering, it would generate an additional $25-$35 Million in tax revenue during the first year.
Proponents of the measure also noted that the legalization of the market would substantially reduce the volume of illegal wagering within the state. Casey Eure, a State Representative, who introduced the bill for consideration, said that the illegal US betting market was estimated at approximately $64 Billion annually, with Mississippi accounting for $3.2 Billion, or 5% of it.
If passed into law, HB 774 would enable sports bettors aged 21 or above to place online wagers from anywhere in the state. Additionally, the outlooks for the state-regulated casino venues seem promising. Sports betting operators would be required to collaborate with a Mississippi-based casino establishment and share a portion of the profits generated from remote wagering.
While casinos will be limited to partnering with a single sportsbook operator, betting platforms will be allowed to collaborate with multiple casinos at the same time.
Gambling Tax Revenue Will Be Allocated to the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund
Sports betting operators will be taxed at 12%. As per an approved amendment of the bill, the revenue will be entirely allocated to the state’s Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund.
Under the previous version of the bill, 4% of the tax revenue would have been directed to the county of the casino, and the remaining 8% to the state. However, this was changed to protect the interests of areas without casinos.
Many feel optimistic about the future of online sports betting in Mississippi, as both Democrats and Republicans have supported the bill. As State Representative Casey Eure remarked during the session, his focus was on expanding the casino industry in the state so it can stay competitive.
Robert Lee Johnson III, Minority Leader of the Mississippi House of Representatives, expressed concerns about small casino establishments and their unfavorable position when it comes to partnering with sportsbook platforms. He offered an amendment to the bill, which, however, failed by a large majority.
The bill will now advance to the State Senate for consideration. If both chambers vote in favor of it, it would come into force in July. While in-person betting on sports and fantasy sports has been authorized in Mississippi since 2018, remote betting has remained unregulated amid fears that the sports betting industry would reduce casino’s profits.