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Mississippi Lawmaker Propose New Online Betting Legislation

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The first bill of the year that seeks to legalize online sports betting in Mississippi has been filed in the House.

In the last Mississippi House of Representatives plenary session, Representative Cedric Burnett reintroduced a bill, HB217, that aims to modify the state’s laws to include online sports betting. The proposed legislation would enable live online casinos to provide sports betting themselves or through an authorized operator.

The bill mandates online sports betting tax to follow the existing tiered structure applied to casinos, with tax rates ranging from 4-8% based on the generated revenue. Although the bill covers other aspects, its main purpose is to update the current casino regulations.

HB217 makes it Burnett’s fourth attempt at introducing a sports betting bill in Mississippi. Since the retail launch in 2018, he has consistently advocated for the expansion of online sports betting. However, his previous efforts have struggled to gain significant support in the legislature.

Mobile Sports Betting Task Force Discussions

Burnett’s bill won’t likely be the only sports betting proposal during this legislative session. In a Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Task Force meeting last fall, Representative Casey Eure expressed his intention to introduce a similar bill.

The task force meetings produced a comprehensive report that explored various avenues for the state to approach online sports betting. Within the report, numerous brick-and-mortar casinos expressed their concerns about the potential adverse effects of online expansion on the existing state retail sportsbook industry.

Retail sports betting was legalized in Mississippi in August 2018 following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the federal ban on sports betting. Mississippi was one of the states that quickly embraced this change, and many of its casinos, particularly those along the Gulf Coast and in Tunica, began offering sports betting services.

December Market Decline

The Mississippi Gaming Commission recently released the state‘s December betting results, which showed a significant decline in the month’s sports betting handle and revenue.

The casinos in the state recorded a handle of $48.9m for December, which dropped by 34.3% compared to the $74.4m recorded in the same month in 2022.

Revenue reached $4.9m for the month. Although it was 58.1% higher than November 2023’s $3.1m, the figure was a decrease of 56.6% compared to the $11.3m gotten in December of the previous year.

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