Sports Betting Conference Committee Appointed in Mississippi as Legislative Deadlines Near

The job of those committee members will be to see if there’s a compromise that can be reached on legislation passed by the Mississippi House with the intent of making online sports betting legal throughout the state. 

Apr 22, 2024 • 17:07 ET • 3 min read
Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Josh Hubbard
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi lawmakers are getting down to brass tacks on the subject of legalizing statewide mobile sports wagering. 

Members of a conference committee were named last week in Jackson for House Bill 774, the former “Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act.” 

From the House of Representatives, Republican (and Gaming Committee Chairman) Casey Eure, Republican Jay McKnight, and Republican Henry Zuber III were appointed. From the Senate, Democrat (and fellow Gaming Committee Chairman) David Blount, Republican Mike Thompson, and Republican Charles Younger were tapped for conference committee duty.

The job of those members will be to see if there’s a compromise that can be reached on the legislation, which was passed by the Mississippi House with the intent of making online sports betting legal throughout the state. 

State senators then removed those provisions, although they did so to keep discussions on the bill going and to provide an opportunity for lawmakers to craft legislation that works for a three-fifths majority in both chambers. That margin is required because H.B. 774 would provide tax revenue for the state.

The House then formally rejected the Senate's changes.

Time is now running out. The deadline for conference reports to be filed for general bills and constitutional amendments (which is what H.B. 774 is classified as, despite its revenue-raising potential) is next Monday, April 29. 

The first consideration of the report must happen by Wednesday, May 1. The next day is the deadline for filing conference reports for general bills and constitutional amendments that were sent back to the conference committee.

The deadline to adopt reports following recommittal is May 3 and then May 4 is the last day to deal with any motions to reconsider that approval. The Mississippi legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 5.

Study notes

It’s uncertain where lawmakers will land on the issue of online sports betting in Mississippi. Even so, some of them have done at least some homework on the issue that could inform their work over the next week or so.

Of note, Blount, Eure, Thompson, and McKnight were all members of the "Mobile-Online Sports Betting Task Force" that was appointed last year to study all things related to online wagering. The task force’s report provided numerous projections and policy considerations for lawmakers ahead of this year’s legislative session, such as the tax rate. 

“Several of these issues are already addressed in statute or regulation but could be amended if the state were to authorize mobile-online sports betting, significantly expanding the sports betting market and introducing new vendors to the market,” the report noted. 

H.B. 774 proposed allowing online sportsbook operators to partner with the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos (which already have physical sportsbooks) to offer mobile wagering. 

Currently, the only mobile wagering that is legal in the state is via apps with a limited range that only accept wagers while players are at a casino property. The version of H.B. 774 that passed the House also proposed a 12% tax rate for online betting. 

However, the Senate removed those provisions, leaving what is essentially a placeholder bill. 

"There is no new language,” Sen. Blount noted earlier this month.

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