Mississippi House Bill To Legalize Online Sports Betting Fails to Advance

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An aerial view of downtown Jackson, Mississippi on March 24, 2022. Mark Felix / AFP

The Magnolia State won’t be added to the list of states that allow online sports betting. Mississippi House Bill 774, which would have legalized mobile sports betting, did not pass and has died in conference.

Let’s take a closer look at the main obstacles this bill has faced and what its failure might represent for top-rated sportsbooks in the region.

Lawmakers Fold

The bill, also known as the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act, faced challenges during negotiations among lawmakers. While sports betting has been legal in the state for years, online betting remained illegal due to concerns about its impact on the state’s casinos. Unlike neighboring Tennessee and Louisiana, where online sports betting is already permitted, Mississippi will not see mobile sports betting in 2024.

Senate Gaming Committee Chairman and negotiator, David Blount, told the Clarion ledger there were concerns from casino operators that they could end up losing money or be negatively impacted by people making sports bets from their phones.

Despite efforts to address concerns and thorough research conducted by a dedicated sports betting task force, lawmakers could not reach a consensus on the bill before the end of the legislative session.

What Would the Bill Have Allowed?

If the bill had passed, it would have legalized approximately 30 sports betting apps, linked to in-state casinos, with a suggested tax rate of 12%.

Mobile companies would have been required to partner with brick-and-mortar gambling businesses in Mississippi, including casinos. Only residents of Mississippi would have been eligible to participate in online wagering platforms.

Ironically, industry insiders predicted that Mississippi would be one of the top markets likely to approve online sports betting legislation this year.

What About Next Year?

Mississippi’s commercial gaming revenue has declined, raising concerns. In January 2024, the state’s total gaming revenue was approximately $180 million, marking an 11% drop compared to the previous year. If the bill passed, it could have brought in an estimated $25 million to $35 million in the first year, with potential tax revenue exceeding $27 million by the 2029 fiscal year.

Blount said that although it won’t happen this year, the door is still open for lawmakers to put together a bill that they all can agree on next year.

“The thing that is different about Mississippi is we have an established casino industry that employs tens of thousands of people,” Blount said. “The bill that passed the House would have allowed for iGaming, which is to say not just sports betting, but also gambling on your phone, poker, slot machines on the casino property. I think that’s a mistake, and I don’t agree with that. I think if we narrow the scope to sports betting, and we deal with some consumer protections, provisions that were not addressed in the bill, that we can work on a bill again next year.”