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At least one legislator is trying to make Mississippi sports betting a better industry by fixing its biggest flaw.
Rep. Cedric Burnett filed HB 172, which would legalize full online and mobile MS sports betting. The bill is similar to last year’s HB 1481, which died after it failed to advance out of committee. This year’s bill has yet to be heard in the Gaming Committee.
Mississippi launched sports betting in August 2018 under a subtle change in a 2017 DFS law but restricted betting to on-property. That could include limited mobile if the casinos desired, but the mobile app would only work while bettors are physically at the casino.
To date, no casino has launched an app, Allen Godfrey, the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Godfrey mentioned the apps being costly to launch, especially when customers are already at the casino.
Burnett’s bill would allow any licensed casino to launch an online MS sports betting platform.
That could lead to a pretty robust online Mississippi sports betting market. The Mississippi Gaming Commission lists 24 current casino licensees.
Mobile sports bets would be taxed at 6% of revenue when operators report revenue of more than $134,000 in a month. Retail sports betting is typically taxed at 12%, 8% to the state and 4% to the casino’s local government.
There’s no question Mississippi is shooting itself in the foot from a tax revenue standpoint without full mobile betting.
Outside of Tennessee, which has yet to launch, none of Mississippi’s border states offer mobile sports betting. Arkansas only offers retail betting.
That means the state could be getting tax revenue from sports bettors in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. They would only have to cross into the state and complete the registration on their phone to begin placing bets.
The state took nearly $370 million in bets last year. That generated just $44.5 million in operator revenue and $5.3 million in tax revenue. Mississippi sports betting could bring in drastically higher tax revenue with the launch of full mobile.