Will Mississippi Be Legalizing Mobile Sports Betting?

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This aerial view shows the Gateway Arch near the Mississippi River in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP).

Retail sports betting is already allowed in Mississippi but recently, an exploratory committee, the Mississippi Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force, has filed a report with the state regarding the online sports betting marketplace.

Baby Steps

Back in February 2023, Mississippi’s sports betting bill, HB 606, breezed through both legislative chambers but with major alterations. The revisions dealt mainly with putting together a committee expressly designed to provide a “comprehensive analysis of all matters related to online sports betting,” by December 15, 2023.

That deadline has been met and the purpose of the report is to furnish the legislators with information about the digital sports betting industry and, more importantly, answer questions that will hopefully assuage any concerns about how it might affect business at the state’s retail sportsbooks.

The report not only provides additional information but also allows those legislators who may be on the fence to allay their fears and give them time to check the temperature of their constituents regarding its passage. Southern states have been much more reluctant to jump aboard the tax gravy train but baby steps are better than no steps for those in favor of mobile sports betting.

Integration Strategies

Suggestions regarding maintaining the health of the casino industry included tethering the online sportsbooks with the state’s casinos so they could share in the revenues. The report also provided detailed information on tax rates across the industry, licensing fees, as well as marketing promotions, and signup bonus restrictions.

Currently, the only sports betting that can be done in Mississippi is at retail sportsbooks with some providing a mobile app that can only be used on the premises of the casino grounds. Retail sportsbook revenues generate approximately $61 million per year, which produces $5 million in taxes for the state.

However, estimates for mobile sports betting reveal the state would deliver $26.5 million annually from the digital sportsbooks operating in Mississippi.

Casinos Apprehensive

In addition to the many socially conservative and bible-thumping voters in Mississippi who would be opposed to mobile sports betting, many of the casino operators are also arching their eyebrows about what they believe is a potential threat to their revenues.

Sixteen gaming companies are operating 26 commercial casinos in Mississippi, but only a handful like Penn National, Caesars, and MGM are eager to embrace mobile sports betting as they are already operating digitally in many states across the country.

But others have expressed concern. Chris Hopwood, Director of Sportsbook Operations for Choctaw Resort Development Enterprises, which includes Pearl River Resort and Bok Homa Casino in Mississippi, was one of them.

“These corporations do not have Mississippi’s best interests at heart,” Hopwood said. “They only care about their own profits, and they do not have a connection with the people.”

Choctaw’s Stance

“This is a true inflection point for our state and our hope is that you will support the existing sports betting operations in Mississippi and oppose attempts to expand mobile statewide sports betting,” Hopwood said. “However, if the decision is made to allow mobile sports betting, how will this include Choctaw’s sports betting operations?”

Task force co-chair Rep. Casey Eure has publicly stated he intends to bring new sports betting legislation in January but also addressed the trepidation felt by many of the retail casinos.

“My number one goal is to protect bricks and mortar,” Eure told the Mississippi Mobile Online Sports Betting Task Force. “I’ve said that from the beginning. This bill would not have anything to do with iGaming.”

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and update our readers as events unfold.