Special Session Could Address How Sports Betting Revenue is Spent
Legal Sports Report

Lawmakers Could Revisit Mississippi Sports Betting In Special Session

Mississippi sports betting

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant could call state legislators into special session within days to address issues related to sports betting.

A report from Mississippi News Now indicates that Mississippi sports betting and online tax revenue could be a primary issue. State Sen. Joey Fillingane said in the story that determining how to allocate Mississippi sports betting revenue would be a focus.

“So what will actually happen, in practice, is currently those dollars would simply go into the general fund,” Fillingane said. “Because there is no law in place that says they would be diverted to infrastructure or education or wherever. It just goes into the state’s general revenue fund.”

It does not appear that a 2018 special session would be a time to amend gaming law in a serious way, in terms of things like:

  • Asks from pro sports leagues, like integrity fees and control over data rights.
  • Whether mobile wagering outside of casinos will be considered.
  • Any changes to how the state might regulate wagering beyond the rules promulgated by the state’s gaming commission.

Mississippi sports betting will start in July

State legislators cleared the way for Mississippi sports betting last year. Within a law addressing daily fantasy sports, they removed language preventing sports betting within the Magnolia State:

(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.

Once the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May, the door opened for Mississippi to engage in single-game sports wagering.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission proposed draft regulations to govern sports betting in May. After a 30-day public review period, the MGC approved the proposed rules largely intact last week.

What Mississippi sports betting will look like

There are 28 casinos in the state, including properties of major players like MGM Resorts and Caesars. MGM teased a July 21 sports betting launch on Twitter before stepping back from the announcement. Both casinos are getting ready, as are others in the state.

Mississippi sports betting will be restricted to land- and water-based casinos with minimal exception. Mobile wagering will be permitted only while on the property of a land- or water-based property. It also requires in-person signup at a physical sportsbook on that property.

Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 12 percent of revenue, with eight percent going into state coffers and four percent designated for local municipalities.

What needs to happen before the special session

Fillingane told MS News Now that he does not want to waste taxpayer money by coming into a special session without some framework for an agreement already in place.

“It could be very soon,” Fillingane said. “I think what he has said, and he is usually pretty good about, giving people the heads up beforehand. What he would like to see is a tentative agreement between the speaker and the lieutenant governor before he just calls us there and we spend state tax dollars sitting on opposite ends of the hall debating.”

Mississippi will look to become the third state to launch single-game sports betting outside Nevada in 2018. Delaware and New Jersey already began their operations, while Rhode Island will launch in the fall. West Virginia sports betting should start by football season as well.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV.