Mississippi Senate Keeps Mobile Betting Plan Alive

April 4, 2024
A Mississippi bill to legalize mobile sports betting remains alive heading into a key deadline next week as negotiations remain ongoing.

A Mississippi bill to legalize mobile sports betting remains alive heading into a key deadline next week as negotiations remain ongoing.

The Senate Gaming Committee moved forward with House Bill 774, sending a strike-all amendment to the House floor to keep the bill alive, as the Senate requires bills to clear a committee by April 2.

The House version of the bill would allow each of the state’s 26 casinos, which are currently authorized to offer land-based wagering, to offer mobile sports betting through one online skin for each property.

In a brief two-minute meeting Tuesday (April 2), the Senate Gaming Committee kept the bill alive but removed provisions governing mobile betting for the time being.

“I am told there are people who have been on opposite sides of this issue in the past that are talking and as far as I know, working in good faith to come up with a proposal to share with us,” said Senator David Blount, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee. “I have not been involved in looking at that, but if people are talking, that’s a good thing and we want to continue to let them do that.”

“There are a lot of issues 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, but in the meantime we don’t want to stop people from listening to each other or working.”

The next key deadline for the Senate to act on the bill is Wednesday (April 10), a deadline for floor action on bills that originated in the other chamber.

The key opposition to mobile wagering has come from independent casinos who fear mobile betting will cannibalize their land-based revenue. At least six casino ownership groups had expressed their opposition to mobile betting, arguing that a mobile betting model would see similar results to other states where only a few companies control most of the market.

“[The House bill] does not protect brick and mortar, so that’s a concern,” Blount told WJTV in Jackson. “I mean, there are tens of thousands of people in Mississippi who work in these industries and these jobs, and that’s important." 

“So, the House bill doesn’t do that. But we’re willing to start looking at it and that’s what we’re doing.”

Some casino operators also expressed concerns that mobile betting would simply be a stepping stone to online casino expansion.

The session comes to a close on May 5, with deadlines throughout the way for specific actions, including potential conference committee decisions if the bill should clear the Senate next week in some form.

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