Death, taxes, and a legislative attempt to expand Mississippi sports betting are among the things that it seems people can count on each year.
For the fifth consecutive year, a state legislator has submitted a proposal to make betting on sporting events online legal throughout Mississippi instead of merely on casino grounds.
Yet it’s unclear whether the 2023 version has any better chance of becoming law than its four predecessors. There is one significant difference between the landscape for the activity in 2023 and prior years.
Mississippi sports betting on the docket in 2023
For anyone who thought a fourth failed attempt would have closed the book on the issue of expansion, it appears yet another member of the Mississippi legislature is willing to give it a go. In 2023, it’s Rep. Casey Eure.
Eure is notable in this regard because he’s the chair of the Mississippi House’s gaming committee. That essentially guarantees his bill will get consideration in the committee and even suggests it could get a favorable vote in that committee.
Eure’s bill, HB 606, is similar to prior versions in some ways. Like its predecessors, HB 606 would not introduce new licenses or give current licensees additional opportunities to contract with multiple online sportsbook providers.
It also does not change the tax rate for sports betting revenue. There are some key differences, however.
What’s in HB606?
The major change that the bill would make to the current landscape of online Mississippi sports betting is in the geofencing requirements. Instead of requiring bettors to be on casino grounds when they place bets online, eligible bettors could do so anywhere in the state.
Once they are registered for the sports betting app they wish to use, that is.
A controversial tenet of the bill requires Mississippians who wish to gamble online to complete their registrations in person at the corresponding Mississippi casino. What’s more, it mandates the renewal of such registration every 12 months.
It’s unclear whether that language means once every calendar year or every 12 months after initial registrations. Whether that language will survive into future iterations of the bill remains to be seen.
Either way, there’s new pressure on Mississippi to make this happen.
Online sportsbooks launch in two more neighboring states
When the 2022 legislative session began, the only state that bordered Mississippi and offered legal online sports betting was Tennessee. That is no longer the case.
Throughout 2022, legal online sportsbooks went live in all of Arkansas and most of Louisiana. Thus, Mississippians now have three border states to visit to place legal online bets. It’s unclear how often they are making the trips to do so.
Given the appetite for gambling (Mississippi casinos collected over $2 billion in 2022) and the love of college sports, it’s fair to assume that Mississippi residents are crossing the borders or using illegal channels to place their bets. For the fifth consecutive year, at least one Mississippi lawmaker wants to do something about that.