Will Mississippi Finally Expand Online Sports Betting In 2022?

Written By Derek Helling on January 4, 2022 - Last Updated on January 5, 2022

In each of the past two years, legislators have tried to open up Mississippi online sports betting to become available statewide. In both years, those efforts failed. 2022 might be the year that the balance toward that change gets tippy in Mississippi, though.

The landscape of the state as far as gambling goes remains mostly the same but there are extenuating circumstances that might alter things. For the first time, the state might see a serious tax revenue exodus.

The newest Mississippi online sports betting bill

Rep. Cedric Burnett has filed HB 184. If successful, it would allow for existing sportsbooks in the Magnolia State to accept wagers online from eligible bettors anywhere in the state.

Currently, MS residents and visitors can only bet online legally while on the grounds of casinos. For that reason, the vast majority of the handle in the state comes from wagers placed in-person at retail sportsbooks.

Most of the sportsbooks in the state don’t even offer an online platform right now. It’s hard to blame them for not wanting to carry the expense when the opportunity to recoup the investment is very limited.

Other than changing the geofencing restriction to the entire state, the bill wouldn’t change much else. No new licenses or skins would be available. The graduated tax structure on revenue would remain the same as well.

The state would just stand to claim a lot more tax revenue. That’s what Burnett and other advocates for the change will need to convince their colleagues of. The landscapes in surrounding states might help their cause.

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Two border states ready to up the ante

While legal online sports betting in Tennessee has given bettors in MS reason to travel outside of their state, that effect has been limited. The limitations on that loss of tax revenue look like they’re nearly over.

Online sportsbooks could launch this month in 55 Louisiana parishes. Several of those parishes sit on the MS border. Additionally, legislators in Arkansas are just a vote away from making online sports betting legal in that state.

It’s uncertain how much action MS sportsbooks could lose from Mississippians going to place their bets in AR and LA. Regardless, the points have value as part of the sales pitch to expand gaming in MS. Burnett and others could point to a possibility that MS could lose tax dollars to three neighboring states instead of just one.

If the status quo remains or progress on the bill slows, there could be some hard numbers to suggest AR, LA, and TN sportsbooks are draining their counterparts in MS. For now, the state has a shot at avoiding any of that by putting itself on equal footing.

Photo by TLF Images / Shutterstock
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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