While Mississippi Rep. Casey Eure expects to lead a sports betting charge in the Magnolia State, other lawmakers are getting the ball rolling.
Rep. Cedric Burnett, a Democrat, introduced an online Mississippi sports betting bill, HB 271, last week. This week, Republican Rep. Jay McKnight filed a separate bill, HB 635, authorizing mobile wagering. The bills legalize statewide online sports betting for existing gaming licensees in Mississippi.
Sports betting in Mississippi began in 2018, with geofenced online sportsbooks legally allowed on casino properties. Heading into the session, industry stakeholders believe Mississippi is one of the likelier states to pass sports betting legislation this year.
Another bill coming in Mississippi?
This fall, the Mississippi Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force met multiple times to gather information and recommendations for online expansion. The legislature created the task force by amending an online sports betting legalization bill during the 2023 session.
During the task force meetings, Eure said he would use the information gathered during the process to create his bill. Eure’s sports betting legislation in 2023 was the vehicle that led to the task force.
“Now, I can’t sit here and tell you for sure that it’s gonna pass the House and I’ll be able to send it to the Senate, but I wanted everybody to know where I stood from day one,” Eure said at October’s task force meeting.
Mississippi sports betting bills
The two sports betting bills amend the Gaming Control Act to allow the state’s gaming operators to launch their own sportsbooks or partner with an operator.
There are 26 casinos in Mississippi, according to the task force’s report.
The bills also delete the prohibition of daily fantasy sports operators from offering contests based on individual collegiate athletes.
Sports betting tax structure
Both bills create a tiered tax system based on online sports betting revenue. The tiers are:
- 4% of revenue up to $50,000
- 6% on revenue between $50,000 and $134,000
- 8% on revenue greater than $134,000
The 8% rate is in line with in-person sports betting, as well as the task force’s recommendation. The task force estimates the state could bring in up to $27.1 million in tax revenue annually.
Mississippi sports betting opposition
Sixteen companies operate the casinos in Mississippi. Not all of them are on board with expanding sports betting online.
Independent, smaller operators fear the expansion could cannibalize casino revenue. They also believe major operators will dominate the market. Legislators are sympathetic to those concerns.
“My primary concern is how to make sure that we don’t do anything that jeopardizes the destination gaming product that Mississippi gaming has been built on,” Sen. Mike Thompson said during a task force meeting this fall.
Bullish in Mississippi
November‘s presidential election has some industry stakeholders worried politics might derail sports betting, which will require bipartisan cooperation.
“We’re seeing headwinds in states like Georgia and Mississippi, where people felt like they might be closer,” one industry source said heading into the session. “In an election year with vocal opposition, it makes it harder for lawmakers to feel comfortable moving forward.”