Law lifting Mississippi's prohibition on sports betting went under the radar
Legal Sports Report

Mississippi Is Already Poised To Offer Legal Sports Betting, Thanks To Language In A Fantasy Sports Law

Mississippi and sports betting
One other state appears ready to launch sports betting if New Jersey wins its Supreme Court case: Mississippi.

Mississippi already acted on sports betting, under the radar

As first reported by the Biloxi Sun Herald, the Mississippi legislature slipped language into a fantasy sports bill passed earlier this year that dealt with sports betting.

Here’s more from state Rep. Scott DeLano, per the Sun Herald:

“We did make modifications to Gaming Control Act that would allow for the Gaming Commission to regulate sports betting if it were ever to be overturned at the federal level,” DeLano said. …

“I think that opens up an opportunity to offer it as a legal game,” said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

What the new law did for sports betting

Here’s why the new law went unnoticed by many: It doesn’t actually mention sports betting.

Most of the provisions of H 967 deal with regulation of the daily fantasy sports industry. The bill also was not widely analyzed, as it merely replaced and updated a law Mississippi enacted in 2016 that was scheduled to sunset this year.

The bill amends and replaces a part of the existing gaming statutes in Mississippi. The old version of the Mississippi Gaming Control Act included this passage:

(a) No wagering shall be allowed on the outcome of any athletic event, nor on any matter to be determined during an athletic event, nor on the outcome of any event which does not take place on the premises.

The new law, however, strikes that passage from the law. That is the mechanism by which the state could regulate sports betting. The absence of that passage also serves to lift the prohibition on sports betting in the state. (Of course, it is still illegal for the state to regulate sports betting under federal law.)

Mississippi had already been one of the most aggressive states in the US on the subject of sports gambling even before this new law came into being.

New Jersey must still win its case

Mississippi still can’t offer sports betting, however, without a change to federal law.

The quickest path would be for the US Supreme Court to find that PASPA is unconstitutional in the NJ sports betting case. SCOTUS agreed to hear the state’s appeal this week.

If New Jersey falls short in its effort to offer legal sports betting, then Mississippi wouldn’t be able to offer sports betting unless Congress amends or repeals PASPA.

Connecticut appears poised to join Mississippi in this category. A bill that would allow for regulation of sports betting is sitting on the desk of that state’s governor.

The bottom line is that other states should be lining up to join Mississippi and Connecticut in this category. A New Jersey victory quickly changes the landscape for US sports betting.

Mississippi is already prepared for that brave new world, however.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.