The Mississippi House committee has taken a significant step forward in the legalization of online sports betting in the state by advancing the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act. This move aims to address the concerns surrounding the thriving black market for sports wagering and tap into the growing demand for mobile betting.

While traditional sportsbooks have been legal in Mississippi for some time, online betting has been notably absent due to fears that it could impact the revenue of physical casinos in the state. However, with the increasing prevalence of illegal offshore sports betting platforms, legislators see the need to regulate and capitalize on this lucrative market.

The Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act, led by Republican Rep. Casey Eure of Saucier, requires online gambling companies to form contracts with brick-and-mortar establishments. This is expected to bring substantial tax revenue to the state, estimated to exceed $25 million annually, while also ensuring that physical stores remain competitive.

Despite efforts to protect existing businesses, concerns have been raised about the bill’s impact on smaller casinos in rural areas, which may not benefit from the proposed safeguards. Critics fear that the convenience of online gambling could deter bettors from traveling to these establishments, negatively impacting their businesses.

Rep. Eure argues that legalizing mobile sports betting will significantly reduce the illegal market, preventing funds from leaving the state. Currently, Mississippi leads the US in online black market sports betting searches, losing approximately $3 billion annually to illegal bets. By legalizing and taxing these wagers, the state could cover vital expenses.

GeoComply Solutions Inc., a geolocation data company, has identified millions of instances where mobile devices in Mississippi accessed legal sports betting sites in neighboring states. With Tennessee and Louisiana legalizing online sports betting since 2020 and 2022, respectively, Mississippi is seeing a growing interest in regulated online wagering. The bill has passed the committee stage and is awaiting consideration by the full House.

If successfully passed into law, Mississippi would join the increasing number of states leveraging online sports betting to boost revenues and provide a safe alternative to black market operators. However, lawmakers will need to gather the political will to push through these reforms and ensure that bettors receive necessary protections.

By admin