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The federal prohibition on sports betting is gone. Now the race begins to get to market among states who had the foresight to legislate in advance.
Everyone reasonably expects New Jersey, whose lawsuit spurred the Supreme Court’s overturn of PASPA, to head the line. Mississippi’s casino infrastructure and operators with sports betting history like MGM Resorts and Caesars make it a natural next domino.
Judging by comments from regulators and operators in Mississippi, the Magnolia State might follow within the next two months.
Jay McDaniel, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told Legal Sports Report regulations are being developed for a late-summer launch. Given the popularity of college and pro football in the South, starting up Mississippi sports betting before fall kickoffs makes sense.
“Basically, we have been preparing regulations on our end to properly regulate this new form of gaming on our casino floors, and those should be in place soon,” McDaniel said. “Likewise, I think many of our operators have been working on their end to put something in place as soon as it is feasible. Best guess is by the end of summer, we will see some sportsbooks in place in some of our casinos.”
Casino operators in Mississippi told the New Orleans Times-Picayune they will be ready in the next couple of months.
“Oh, I would say all 28 casinos in our state are raring to go now,” said Michael Bruffey, vice president and general counsel for Island View Casino Resort, to the T-P. “It’s just very exciting.”
MGM owns the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. Jim Murren and Bill Hornbuckle, MGM’s top two executives, spent recent months touting the company’s sports betting bona fides in anticipation of Monday.
“MGM Resorts International applauds the court’s decision to allow states the opportunity to protect consumers and benefit the public by regulating and taxing sports betting,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to working with legislators and policymakers to achieve a regulatory outcome that benefits states and consumers alike while ensuring the integrity of sports.”
Mississippi legislators moved quietly to legalize sports betting in 2017 by changing a bill that legalized daily fantasy sports. The bill expressly maintained the legality of DFS, but also removed a provision prohibiting sports betting from the Mississippi Gaming Control Act.
(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.
Sports betting will be restricted to Mississippi casinos, at least for now. State law requires gambling to take place at either land-based or water-based casinos.