Mobile Sports Betting Bill Moving Again in Mississippi

It was a strange and sudden move for legislation that hasn’t budged for a month, but it will keep the possibility of legalizing mobile sports wagering this year alive in Mississippi for the time being. 

Apr 2, 2024 • 18:47 ET • 2 min read
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Mobile sports betting legislation has lurched forward in the Mississippi legislature after weeks of motionlessness and without any mobile sports betting-related provisions. 

House Bill 774 was passed by the Mississippi Senate's Gaming Committee on Tuesday, the deadline for committees to report out measures that originated in the opposite chamber.

The committee, however, used an amendment to remove all of the mobile sports betting components from H.B. 774, the legislation formerly known as the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act. 

Committee Chairman David Blount said this was done to keep the bill alive and to allow negotiations between lawmakers (which are apparently happening) to continue.

"There are a lot of issues that we need to consider from the perspective of the industry and also from the perspective of the consumer that we will do if we get to the point where we might be able to get something done this year," Sen. Blount said during a brief meeting Tuesday morning. "But in the meantime, we certainly don't want to stop people from listening to each other and working."

Is that... good?

It was a strange and sudden move for a bill that hasn’t budged for a month, but it will keep the possibility of legalizing mobile sports wagering this year alive in Mississippi for the time being. 

H.B. 774 was first referred to the Senate Gaming Committee at the end of February after passing the House of Representatives a few weeks earlier. No action was then taken on the legislation until this week.

Legal Mississippi sportsbooks are already in place at more than 20 brick-and-mortar casinos, but H.B. 774 previously proposed to authorize statewide online race and sports betting sites. Those are currently prohibited in the Magnolia State except for a few apps that accept action from patrons while they are physically present at a casino property. 

Under the previous version of the bill, casinos would have been able to partner with one online betting operator apiece to offer mobile wagering and revenue raised by operators would be taxed at a rate of 12%. Bettors, meanwhile, would have to be 21 or older and could register for accounts in person at a casino or over the Internet. 

The ties to casinos reflect concerns that have been heard along the way in Mississippi about the effect that statewide mobile wagering could have on brick-and-mortar operators.

Those concerns were voiced by independents who don’t have the same experience as Caesars Entertainment Inc. or PENN Entertainment Inc. in running mobile sportsbooks.

A different time

Time will tell how much further H.B. 774 goes, but there is only so much time available for lawmakers to hammer out a new proposal and get it passed by their peers.

The Mississippi legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 5, and senators have until April 11 to pass H.B. 774, one of many deadlines for lawmakers.

Yet the 2024 legislative session has not produced a lot of wins for sportsbook and iGaming operators, at least not thus far.

Interestingly, the Mississippi House passed H.B. 774 amid the backdrop of Alabama and Georgia considering their own sports betting-related legislation, but those efforts have either slowed (in Alabama’s case) or failed outright (as happened again recently in Georgia). 

“All I'm doing is trying to give another product to our casino industry in our state to stay competitive,” Rep. Casey Eure, the principal author of H.B. 774, said in February. “And I feel like that's what we're doing.”

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