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Mississippi House Overwhelmingly Passes Online Sports Betting Bill

ole Miss Fans Cheer Against Vanderbilt Commodores
Thousands of Ole Miss fans cheer after the Ole Miss Rebels defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images/AFP

The House approved the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act by a whopping 97-14 vote last week as the bill now advances to the state Senate where, if successful, will be sent to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Tax Dollars Redirected

Representative Casey Eure, co-chair of last year’s mobile sports betting task force, has proposed Mississippi mobile sports betting legislation that has garnered support on both sides of the aisle, making it an attractive piece of legislation that has won approval in the House and is now in the hands of the state Senate.

The online sportsbooks would be taxed at 12% but a last-minute change in the bill saw those tax dollars will no longer be dispersed with 8% directed to the state and 4% to those local communities that host a casino. That has now changed to where the entire 12% is being earmarked to the state for infrastructure repairs and road construction.

The bill is also taking aim at the black market of illegal gaming. It is estimated Mississippi bettors wagered an estimated $3 billion with out-of-market operators or local bookies. The regulated online sports betting market would likely take a big bite out of the black market and put a taxable portion of the proceeds into the hands of the state where it would be used on the highways and byways throughout the Magnolia State.

Partnering Up

HB 774, commonly referred to as the “Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act”, touts digital sports betting but not online casino gambling, or iGaming, much to the relief of the state’s 26 commercial and tribal casinos that do offer retail sports betting. The bill would compel the mobile sportsbooks to partner with one of the state’s casinos and share in the profits.

Per the language in the bill, the online operators could partner with all the casinos throughout the state but the casinos can only align with one mobile sportsbook.

“The number one goal is to protect our brick-and-mortar buildings,” House Gaming Committee Chairman Casey Eure said. “Every mobile sports wager will be tied to a brick-and-mortar building.”

Fair Deal?

However, Representative Robert Johnson (D-District 94) was skeptical of the small market casinos getting its fair share of the proceeds. He indicated that larger online sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel would be partnering with the larger casinos for greater visibility.

“There are platforms in this country that just about now already have a monopoly. Everybody knows that, quit saying it’s going to be 40 platforms. After a while, there’ll be two or three platforms. And if you don’t have a contract with one of those platforms, then you’re out of the market and you don’t make any revenue. I’m just dealing with a practical reality,” Johnson said.

Yet, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Eure, countered that by saying, “With 26 casinos, there’s approximately 30 to 40 platforms out there, and you’re allowed to create your own platform so it doesn’t hold you back from creating your own platform. DraftKings and FanDuel can partner with all 26 casinos, but all 26 casinos can’t have 40 different platforms,” said Eure.

Johnson ultimately voted for the bill and now it is in the hands of the Senate.

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