A Mississippi sports betting task force will review legislative options for expanding gaming beyond casino walls after Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill into law mandating the study.
The MS sports betting bill, HB 606, overwhelmingly cleared the House and Senate in February after some major alterations. It directs 13 state legislators to complete a “comprehensive analysis of all matters related to online sports betting,” by Dec. 15, 2023. The report will be made public.
Currently, Mississippi sports betting is limited to in-person sportsbooks and geofenced apps on casino grounds. In its original form, the bill would have legalized online sports betting in Mississippi, though the House Committee on Appropriations replaced it with language to study sports betting before it went to the floor.
Slow progress picks up in South
Mississippi is part of a cluster of Southern states where gaming bills have had a particularly tough time compared to the rest of the country.
Until early 2022, Tennessee had been Mississppi’s only neighbor state with legalized online betting. Now online sports betting is live in Arkansas and Louisiana, while lawmakers in Alabama and Georgia are exploring legalization once again.
Mississippi’s sports betting law has not undergone any changes since 2018, when the Mississippi Gaming Commission promulgated rules for in-person wagering hours after the Supreme Court voted to repeal the Professional and Amature Sports Protection Act.
Sports betting studies lead to bills?
It is not out of the norm for a state to first study the proper framework for online sports betting before seriously considering legalizing it. Study bills often placate hesitant legislators while still advancing an issue.
Georgia is similarly weighing a study bill ahead of its Wednesday legislative deadline. A similar study passed in Vermont last year and now the state is the closest it has ever been to legalizing the industry.
Last year the Mississippi legislature considered four separate sports betting bills, though none made it through any committees. State legislators have considered mobile wagering nearly every year since launch with little progress.
MS sports betting study details
The Mississippi task force will be comprised of key officials from or appointed by the state Gaming Commission, Department of Revenue, Gaming and Hospitality Association, Senate Gaming Committee and House Gaming Committee.
Their names must be finalized by July 31, under the bill’s terms.