Senate committee approves Mississippi online sports betting bill

Mississippi Sports Betting
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Mississippi lawmakers are advancing an amended online sports betting measure.

On Tuesday, the Mississippi Senate Gaming Committee passed House Bill 774, a bill aimed to expand sports betting online in the state. HB 774, sponsored by Rep. Casey Eure and others, has been given a “do pass” approval by the gaming committee after passing in the House by a 97-14 vote in February following amendments. Now, lawmakers have until April 11 to pass HB 774 through the full Senate.

HB 774 passed out of committee but with a caveat. The bill was given a strike-all amendment with no framework for online sports betting included. Casinos across Mississippi are working on an agreement to integrate sports betting into another bill, Senate Bill 2780. The measure prohibits new leases for gambling activity on the Public Trust Tidelands providing reduce competition for casinos in several Mississippi cities, including Gulfport.

“If people are talking, it’s a good thing. We want to continue to let them do that. We want to continue to move the bill along,” said Sen. David Blount during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “There are a lot of issues that 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.”

SB 2780, introduced by Blount, received a do pass approval on Tuesday by the House Gaming Committee. In March, the measure was passed with amendments in the Senate.

Previous iterations of HB 774

A previous draft of HB 774 expands Mississippi’s current gaming market, which authorizes retail wagering at casinos across the state with online wagering only permitted within the confines of those facilities. HB 774 proposes to remove those restrictions allowing bettors in Mississippi to indulge in sports betting no matter where they’re located within the state.

The measure calls for each of Mississippi’s 26 casinos to partner with a sports betting brand for online wagering. Operators that are awarded a wagering license in the Magnolia State under HB 774 must adhere to a tiered tax system. Sportsbooks are to be taxed up to a 12% rate on adjusted gross revenue depending on an operator’s revenue each month.

The state projects proceeds from online wagering could reach up to $35 million annually.

Those proceeds are allocated toward an emergency road and highway repair fund.

Online wagering concerns in Mississippi

Mississippi has over 20 casinos that offer retail sports betting or mobile wagering on their properties. However, the emergence of HB 774 is drawing cannibalization concerns as brick-and-mortar casinos anticipate a drop in revenue with open online wagering.

The concerns come as commercial gaming revenue has declined across Mississippi. According to the American Gaming Association, Mississippi generated $180.3 million in total commercial gaming revenue in January 2024, a 10.7% decline year-over-year.

That same month, the Magnolia State reported $6.6 million in taxable revenue from sports wagering behind a $44.6 million handle, a 1.7% increase compared to January 2023.