Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has officially signed House Bill 606 into law, paving the way for online legal sports betting in the Magnolia State.
The bill authorizes a mobile sports betting task force that will hammer out the details for subsequent online sports betting legislation. Those hoping for outright legalization of online sports betting this legislative session might be disappointed.
But, as designed, Mississippi’s newly minted task force should make legalizing online sports betting a slam dunk in 2024.
Mississippi was one of the first states to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court lifted the US ban in 2018, but the current law only allows gambling on online sports betting sites while being also physically located on casino properties.
As a result, Mississippi lawmakers decided to change tacks and HB 606 was scaled back in February to authorize a state task force.
“As you know, for the last several years we’ve been working on a mobile sports betting bill, and at this time we felt it was the proper thing to put this task force together, then hopefully come next year and have a good mobile sports betting bill that this House can pass," Representative Casey Eure told the Clarion Ledger.
The amended bill cleared both Mississippi’s House and Senate earlier this week.
Playing catch up
Some of Mississippi’s neighbors have already authorized online sports betting. Tennessee was one of the first states to legalize online sports betting back in November 2020, and online sports betting has been available in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes since January 2022. Meanwhile, Arkansas took its first online sports wager back in March 2022.
Luckily, online sports betting in Mississippi shouldn’t have to wait too much longer. HB 606’s task force has a pretty aggressive timeline, as the bill is set to go into law on July 1.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance and Evaluation and Expenditure Review has until December 15 to issue a public report on the task force’s findings, and that would give lawmakers two weeks to prepare a new online sports betting bill before the start of the 2024 legislative session.