Mississippi Again Punts On Mobile Sports Betting Expansion

Posted on February 5, 2021 - Last Updated on February 8, 2021
Mississippi sports betting

Mississippi sports betting is staying offline.

Three bills aiming to expand MS sports betting to mobile platforms in the state died in committee this week.

Mississippi was one of the first states to launch sports betting in 2018 but continues to be restricted to retail sportsbooks. Multiple mobile betting bills have failed in the years following legalization.

A seismic shift?

Currently, mobile betting is allowed on a casino’s property in the state. None of the state’s commercial casinos are using the so-called “Mississippi mobile” option though.

The three failed bills would have altered the betting landscape by bringing sports betting in Mississippi online:

  • SB 2396 would have allowed each casino operator an online sportsbook.
  • SB 2732 and HB 1042 proposed expanding existing legislation to carry online betting statewide.

Mississippi sports betting revenue hamstrung

Since launching in August 2018, Mississippi has generated $103 million in sports betting revenue, and $12.4 million in taxes on $890 million wagered.

In 2020, the state’s wagering created more than $43 million in revenue and $5.2 million in taxes. Unless the state’s 24 casino operators can open up statewide mobile, a wealth of potential tax revenue will continue to go into the illegal market.

“Every day millions of Americans in 15 states have access to state-of-the-art mobile sportsbooks, allowing them to place bets on their favorite teams and leagues at home while fostering much-needed tax revenue,” Sen. Philip Moran said in a release introducing SB 2732. “Unfortunately, Mississippi law does not authorize online sports betting, but this bill seeks to change that.

“Mississippi has been leaving money on the table by not authorizing online sports wagering, and it is time to modernize Mississippi’s gambling offerings and do what’s best for Mississippians.”

Maturing MS sports betting market

Even without the extra betting mobile would bring, Mississippi is watching its monthly handle grow, hitting an all-time high of $61.1 million in October 2020.

The first half of 2020 was slowed because of COVID-19. As sports returned in August, however, the state’s monthly handles continue to grow year-over-year.

Both November and December 2020 revenues more than doubled compared to 2019, drawing $8.1 million and $7.7 million respectively. Those numbers pale in comparison to markets with mobile wagering however.

Neighboring state potential

Neighboring Tennessee launched mobile-only betting in late 2020, while Alabama and Florida offer untapped potential. Arkansas has retail betting and Louisiana voters approved sports betting in November 2020.

In November and December, Tennessee brought in $5.4 million in taxes through its mobile betting.

The ability to draw potential customers from neighboring states is dwindling, however. Multiple states legislatures are looking at legalizing sports betting.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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