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Ole Miss Professor Joins Committee Studying Sports Betting Expansion

Written By Derek Helling | Updated:
UMS Cheerleaders Parade Ole Miss School Flag NCAA College Football Game

Legal gambling expansion takes years to occur more often than not. Anyone who has visited a casino in Mississippi to place an online sports bet can probably tell you all about how the wheels of gaming opportunity turn slowly.

However, there has been some momentum toward making Mississippi online sports betting available statewide. A professor from the University of Mississippi (UMS) is now part of that potential change.

Mississippi is exploring expansion of legal online sports betting

Earlier this year, a new law created a 13-person task force to study the economic benefits of expanding legal online sports betting in Mississippi.

Currently, that activity is technically legal but only in very small pockets of the state. By law, bettors must be on the premises of a casino connected to the online sportsbook when they place their bets.

For that reason, BetMGM has been the only prominent US sportsbook operator to start taking online bets in Mississippi so far. Other local brands have also launched online sportsbooks in the state, too.

That could change if Mississippi amends the law to legalize online sports betting throughout the state. Given the state’s population, fervor for college sports, and robust casino presence, Mississippi would be an attractive market for online sportsbooks.

That change could be at least months away if not longer. The law requires the task force to submit its report by Dec. 15, 2023. While that suggests legislation to expand access could surface in 2024, there’s no guarantee that would be the case.

The content of the study might lead to that happening. The committee has enlisted some new expertise.

Professor Ronald Rychlak of UMS joins study committee

Following the law, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann appointed Ronald Rychlak to the task force according to a report by Clara Turnage at Ole Miss News. Rychlak is a law professor at the University of Mississippi (UMS) who has been part of the university’s faculty since 1987.

In terms of his qualifications to speak on the subject, Rychlak serves on the editorial board of The Gaming Law Review. Furthermore, Rychlak is currently one of the Southeastern Conference’s executive committee members.

Rychlak has also filled the role of Ole Miss’ faculty athletics representative since 2007. This experience should give him an authoritative voice in the eyes of Mississippi legislators.

Turnage reports that he wants to use that voice to emphasize protections for athletes and people who may struggle with compulsive gambling issues.

As Rychlak told Turnage, the completion of this study does not signal that legal statewide online sports betting is coming to Mississippi anytime soon. It may yet be several more years, if at all. At the same time, enlisting the aid of people like Rychlak aids this endeavor.

Photo by Rogelio V. Solis / AP Photo
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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

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