Put those smartphones away, Mississippi

Goodbye Mobile Mississippi Sports Betting Bills, We Hardly Knew Ye

Mississippi sports betting

Hope for adding mobile to Mississippi sports betting lasted roughly two weeks in 2019 before fading out.

State House and Senate bills authorizing mobile sports wagering died after missing Tuesday’s deadline to advance from committee.Mississippi’s annual legislative session ends April 7.

Neither H 1481 nor S 2667 received a hearing after dropping in late January, meaning Mississippi sports betting remains in-person only.

Rep. Cedric Burnett (D-Tunica) and Sen. Willie Simmons (D-Cleveland) sponsored the bills in their respective chambers. Neither returned a request for comment Tuesday from Legal Sports Report. but Simmons told The J.T. Show on Supertalk Mississippi on Tuesday he plans to continue pursing sports betting legislation.

“We think as we move forward, we’re going to continue to look at that because it would generate dollars and additions we need for the state,” Simmons said.

Could mobile make a comeback?

Concerns including potential for underage gambling undermined the chances of mobile Mississippi sports betting bills advancing this year. That does not mean, though, mobile is forever stationary in Mississippi.

Sources connected to the process in Mississippi suggest it could take years to gain sufficient support in the conservative state. Similar mobile sports wagering could appear in the 2020 legislative session as well.

“Passing legislation is kind of like a courtship you have with a significant other,” Simmons said. “You have to date it, work it, nurture it, and get it to where you can have a marriage. So we know when we put together a piece of legislation like that, that it’s a challenge for us, but we’re not going to give up.”

For now, though, the nearly two dozen Mississippi casinos offering legal sports betting will only take bets at the counter. By keeping the status quo, Mississippi could be leaving behind a sizable chunk of revenue.

Sports betting revenue capped without mobile

Mississippi sports betting experienced an uneven first few months as a retail-only state. Its opening month proved profitable before regional losses on the New Orleans Saints and college football sliced fall revenue.

December registered as the best month yet for Mississippi though. Books held more than $6 million on more than $41 million wagered. Super Bowl handle underwhelmed, however, at just $4.6 million.

Contrast that with mobile-friendly New Jersey, an admittedly more populous state with a more mature market. Those caveats aside, the Garden State pulled in $35 million in big-game handle, as well as more than $650 million in the past two months.

More than two-thirds of that money came from mobile and online platforms. Long-term potential for US sports betting remains stronger in the mobile market.

Mississippi sports betting history at a glance

The legislative picture surrounding Mississippi sports betting remains cloudy at best. It is important to remember the state did not pass a law creating sports wagering.

Instead, Mississippi lawmakers utilized a 2017 law authorizing daily fantasy sports to remove a legal prohibition on sports betting. That allowed the Magnolia State to move quickly in writing regulations to start sports wagering after PASPA fell in May.

Those regulations only allow for mobile sports betting on the grounds of a casino with a sportsbook. This means, for example, that Beau Rivage patrons could use an MGM Resorts-issued app to wager on-premises, if one existed.

Only Pearl River Resort on the Choctaw Indian Reservation launched such an app to date. Pearl River is Mississippi’s only tribal sportsbook.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He 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. He can be reached at [email protected]
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