Mississippi Online Sports Betting Study Bill Sent to Gov. Tate Reeves
Efforts to authorize online sports betting in Mississippi made progress this week in the Jackson capital.
House Bill 606 was introduced in January by state Reps. Casey Eure (R-Harrison) and Kevin Felsher (R-Harrison). Eure, who chairs the state House Gaming Committee, co-authored the bill designed to initiate a state-commissioned study on how to best authorize online sportsbooks.
HB606 would create a Mobile Sports Betting Tax Force consisting of 11 members. The task force would include the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission or a designee, the Mississippi Department of Revenue commissioner or a designee, and the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association executive director or a designee.
Six of the remaining positions would be occupied by state lawmakers appointed by the chairpersons of the Senate Gaming Committee and the House Gaming Committee. The final two seats would be reserved for the House Gaming Committee chair and the Senate Gaming Committee chair. The gaming chairs would co-chair the task force.
HB606 passed the House last month. After receiving adjustments in the Senate Gaming Committee, the Senate on March 8 voted in favor of initiating an online sports betting study. The House subsequently approved the amendments Tuesday through a unanimous vote.
Online Sports Betting Expansion
HB606 backers hope the measure begins laying the groundwork to allow sports bettors to facilitate wagers over the internet from anywhere inside the state.
The bill, should Gov. Tate Reeves (R) it, would assign the task force responsible for determining whether online sports betting is in the state’s best interest. If it is, the committee will be tasked with proposing tax rates, licensing fees, and application procedures to the legislature.
The task force would also determine whether in-person registration for an online sportsbook account would be required.
Mississippi is already home to legal sports betting, but such wagering can only occur on the premises of a licensed riverboat or land-based casino.
Mississippi was one of the first states to allow its casinos to take sports bets after the US Supreme Court in May 2018 said such legality should be left up to the states, not the federal government. Sports betting in Mississippi began that August at MGM Resorts’ Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino in Tunica.
The 2018 sports betting rules adopted by the Mississippi Gaming Commission allow for online wagering, but only when a patron is physically located on a casino’s property. The regulatory rule has kept most casinos from launching an online sportsbook platform. Only Gold Strike Tunica, Beau Rivage, and Treasure Bay in Biloxi offer mobile betting on their premises.
Along with determining the task force’s size, the engrossed version of HB606 being sent to Reeves mandates that the committee work swiftly and present its report to the legislature no later than Oct. 15, 2023.
The Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Tax Force’s report must be made available to the public, and its members will serve without compensation.
Mississippi’s Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review would have until December 15 to assess the sports betting report and issue its own summary. The Mississippi Legislature would then be responsible for crafting a measure based on the findings to possibly legalize online sports betting during the 2024 legislative session.
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