Mississippi Rep. Casey Eure said he wanted to protect land-based casino operators by expanding mobile MS sports betting throughout the state.
So it is not immediately clear why he included some artificial barriers in his bill.
HB 997 would legalize full mobile sports betting in Mississippi, with each casino getting one online betting license. Currently, those casinos can only launch a mobile betting app that is geofenced to within the walls of the casino itself.
While HB 997 ends that rule and allows betting throughout the state, there is a significant catch: bettors must appear in-person to register for their account.
In-person registration is not a new concept, but this bill takes it one huge step farther. The account must be renewed in-person at least once every 12 months, which would be the first such rule in the nation.
Eure did not answer LSR requests for comment.
Other MS sports betting bills filed
There are other bills filed this session that would enact mobile betting.
Rep. Cedric Burnett filed HB 184 for his third try in four years to legalize mobile sports betting. Sen. Philip Moran wants to approve mobile while also allowing bets on esports events through SB 2462.
A third bill, SB 2652, has the same title and language similar to that in Eure’s bill, but does not include the in-person requirement.
Eure is the chairman of the House Gaming Commission. According to local reports, he also discussed the bill with the Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association before filing, which could mean the in-person registration has industry support.
Mississippi’s local monopoly disappearing
Mississippi launched legal betting August 2018, just three months after the end of PASPA that allowed US sports betting to expand outside of Nevada. None of Mississippi’s border states offered betting, which meant those retail casinos were busy, especially with folks coming from Louisiana.
But sports betting in Louisiana is now legal and available at some casinos with mobile betting launching soon. Arkansas launched retail betting in July 2019 but is in the process of approving mobile AR sports betting.
Sports betting in Tennessee launched in November 2020 with mobile-only sportsbooks. That leaves Alabama to the east with no betting, but that could change this year as well.