To Top

Mississippi House Won’t Vote On Jackson Casino Bill In 2024

Written By Derek Helling on March 28, 2024 - Last Updated on April 19, 2024
aerial view of mississippi capitol

A bill that might have cleared the way for a brick-and-mortar casino in Jackson, Mississippi was short-lived. Mississippi House of Representatives staff might have spent more time processing the proposal compared to the bill’s lifespan in the chamber.

After members of the majority Republican Party caucused on Tuesday, the bill’s sponsor announced that he would not be moving forward with potentially opening the door to a casino in Jackson. Terms of the proposal and competitive interests seem to be behind the quick action.

Rep. Lamar bails on Mississippi casino bill, HB 1989

According to Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press, Mississippi Rep. Trey Lamar announced that he would not push for a vote1 on HB 19892 just a day after introducing it. Reportedly, there were not enough votes to pass the bill in the body.

Geoff Pender and Taylor Vance’s reporting for Mississippi Today strengthens that narrative3. Multiple members of the Mississippi House went on the record to oppose the proposal. Most of them represented districts where existing physical casinos operate.

The real twist of the bill’s introduction, however, is that it seems like it was a surprise move by Lamar. Pender and Vance share that both the director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and a gaming industry association in the state had no idea the bill was coming.

Pender and Vance report that the association fired off a letter of opposition to the idea of a casino in Jackson quickly. In addition to the casino’s location, the letter took issue with other facets of the bill.

Track all online casino bills here.

Casino bill would have sidestepped normal procedures

Among the bill’s tenets were that the casino would have to be located within 6,000 feet of the state capitol and be owned by someone already operating a casino in Mississippi. The bill set a floor for a capital investment on the owners’ part at half a billion dollars.

At the same time, though, the bill would have directed the state to take out loans and provide taxpayer funds to assist with the development of infrastructure around the casino. That would have been unprecedented public support for a gaming facility in the state.

Lamar has not disclosed who the purported developer of the casino would have been. In speaking with Pender and Vance, he merely stated that his bill would have opened up the Pearl River to casino gaming just like the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River in the state.

Amid announcing his decision not to push HB 1989, Lamar advised interested parties not to give up on the idea long-term. That suggests that he might push for the gaming expansion in the future.

Jury is out on who might benefit from Lamar’s advocacy

Lamar has received small campaign donations4 from both Caesars Entertainment and Penn Entertainment in the past. However, complete finance records from his most recent campaign for re-election in 2023 are not yet available.

Both Caesars and Penn operate casinos in the state currently. None of them are in Lamar’s district, although his district is close to Tunica. At the same time, operators of casinos are often not the party that actually owns the property.

Thus, it’s difficult to discern right now exactly who might be the biggest benefactors if Lamar’s proposal ever does become law. What’s for certain is that Lamar’s bill advocated for tremendous resources for that party and for that reason, it didn’t sit well with existing gaming interests in the state.

Sources

  1. Quick death for Mississippi bill that sought casino site in capital city of Jackson ↩︎
  2. Mississippi Legislature House Bill 1989 ↩︎
  3. Surprise: A casino in Jackson? Bill would give special treatment to development, angers other casinos ↩︎
  4. Vote Smart Campaign Finance: Trey Lamar III ↩︎
Photo by AP Photo/Steve Helber
Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling
Privacy Policy