Online sports betting would become legal in Mississippi under a proposal that advanced Tuesday evening in a state House committee meeting.
The House Gaming Committee passed House Bill 774, which would legalize mobile sports betting but require customers to use online services from existing Mississippi casinos to place a bet.
“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.”
Under the proposal, bettors would not have to physically visit a casino to register for sports betting. The entire registration process could happen remotely, as long as it was done in Mississippi.
In-person sports wagering and mobile fantasy sports have been legal in the state since 2018, but online betting has remained outlawed over worries the practice could erode the profits of casinos.
The House proposal would require online sportsbooks like DraftKings or FanDuel, called a “skin,” to partner with a physical casino in Mississippi before allowing customers to participate in mobile betting.
Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson III of Natchez, the House minority leader, voiced concerns that smaller casinos in the state would get choked out of the market because larger casinos, often owned by chains, could quickly partner with sports betting outfits.
“I wouldn’t think that any casino would have a problem partnering with someone,” responded Eure, a Republican from Harrison County.
Eure, the bill’s author, estimated that Mississippi would generate between $25 million to $35 million in revenue during the first year if the state enacted a mobile sports betting program. The revenue would come from a 12% tax on sports wagers with 4% going toward the local municipality where the sponsor casino is located and 8% going toward the state.
The entire 122-member House chamber can now consider the proposal, but it’s unclear when it will do so. House Speaker Jason White, a Republican from West, implied on Tuesday afternoon that the chamber would vote on the measure sometime this week.
If the full House passes the proposal this week, it will move to the Senate for consideration. It would have to clear Senate committee and a full vote on the Senate floor to move to the governor’s desk. If the Senate amends the original bill in any way, it would have to go back to the House for approval.
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