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Senate Committee Strips Mississippi Online Sports Betting Bill Before Advancing

Written By Matthew Kredell on April 3, 2024
Mississippi Sen. David Blount

Mississippi online sports betting legislation remains alive, though its innards are gone.

The Mississippi Senate Gaming Committee offered a strike-all amendment Tuesday before advancing HB774 at the deadline for House bills to advance through Senate committees.

All of the online sports betting details passed by the House are gone. What was put in its place has nothing to do with online sports betting.

But an industry source told PlayUSA that the bill is still on track. What’s important is that it remained alive to set up a possible future compromise that is in the works.

Senate Gaming Committee Chairman David Blount explained at the short committee meeting:

“I’m told there are people who have been on opposite sides of this issue in the past that are talking and, as far as I know, working in good faith to try to come up with a proposal to share with us. I haven’t been involved in looking at that, but if people are talking that’s a good thing and we want to continue to let them do that. We want to move the bill along.”

Possible Mississippi online sports betting compromise in the works

The industry source confirmed that Mississippi casinos are working on a compromise to pass statewide Mississippi online sports betting.

Mississippi, which legalized retail sports betting in 2018, is home to 26 casinos. Some of the smaller casinos, led by Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, have opposed online sports betting.

The agreement centers around tying the fate of the online sports betting bill with SB2780, introduced by Blount. That bill protects current Mississippi casinos from further competition by preventing new leases for gambling-related activities along the Sand Beach, where Gulfport, Biloxi and Bay St. Louis are located.

Casinos that have opposed online sports betting appear ready to lift their opposition in return for preventing further Mississippi casino expansion.

While the Senate Gaming Committee kept HB774 alive Tuesday, the House Gaming Committee kept alive Blount’s bill.

How Mississippi online sports betting may move forward

The Mississippi online sports betting bill had languished in the Senate since its Feb. 1 passage in the House. But now it must move quickly.

House Bill 774 needs a Senate floor vote by April 11, the deadline for House bills to get out of the Senate.

The plan, according to the industry source, is for HB774 and SB2780 both to go to conference committees. There, each will have the same three conferees from each chamber to lay out the compromise.

So it doesn’t really matter what is in HB774 when it passes the Senate because the details will be filled in during the conference committee.

The deadline for final adoption of conference reports is April 29 with floor consideration on May 1.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to consider from the perspective of the industry and the perspective of the consumer that we will do if we get to the point where we might be able to get something done this year,” Blount said in committee. “But in the meantime we certainly don’t want to stop people from listening to each other and working.”

Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/ AP photo
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 after federal passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act disrupted his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker. He has since interviewed more than 300 lawmakers around the country and written extensively about online gambling legislation. He has led coverage of bills to legalize online gambling in most states. A lifelong Angeleno and USC journalism alum, Matthew started his career working as a sportswriter for a decade at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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