Mississippi Senator Discusses Hurdles Of Online Sports Betting

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
Sports Betting Mississippi

Mississippi has had an interesting relationship with online sports betting. The market launched retail sportsbooks at local casinos only in 2018. There are mobile and online apps available on casino grounds, however, legislation for statewide mobile betting has always failed. Recently, Sen. Mike Thompson sat with WLOX to discuss the matter of online sportsbooks in Mississippi.

Mississippi Taskforce Reviewing Online Betting

Sen. Thomas is one of 13 legislators who are a part of the Mississippi Legislature’s Mobile-Online Sports Betting Task Force. This task force is tasked with studying and creating recommendations in regard to online sports betting. The task force will present a report to the Peer Evaluation Committee before Dec. 15 to discuss their findings.

One of the biggest questions would be the impact on the local gambling economy. Mississippi is a major gambling hub that attracts tourism to its local casinos, specifically in areas like Biloxi.

“My primary concern is how to make sure that we don’t do anything in Mississippi that jeopardizes the destination gaming product that Mississippi gaming has been built on,” said Mike Thomas. “That’s very important to me. At one point in time we had nearly 80% of our casinos with drive-in traffic. And we know that those patrons don’t necessarily stay on casino properties full-time. They go out in the community. They eat at restaurants. They go fishing and visit towns like Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs, Pass Christian. And so we know now that that destination gaming product is important to the entire coast.”

Taskforce Concerned For Underage Gambling Monitoring

Concerns of potential underage gambling are a focus of the task force according to Sen. Thomas. Additionally, a potential rise in problem gambling cases is also on the minds of legislators. The task force is studying how these can affect Mississippi.

“There’s something about the human psyche, when you drive up to a casino, walk through the doors, have your ID checked, and walk in and place your bet,” said Thomas. “That’s tangible. You know that that’s happening. I think we all have to acknowledge that sometimes things that happen on our phones are intangible. Including exchanging money. So we have to be certain the proper rules and regulations are in place to address underage gambling, compulsive gambling, people who abuse it.”

Other markets have laid the blueprint for how to manage a mobile betting market. Authorizations and ID verifications are the norm in other markets. Alongside responsible gambling efforts such as self-exclusion lists and gambling helplines, there are examples for the task force to pull from.

Mississippi Failed To Launch Mobile Apps In The Past

In 2021, lawmakers presented SB 2396 which would have expanded mobile betting statewide. Mississippi online sports betting failed to pass, however, as the measure died in Committee.

Lawmakers attempted again during the 2022 legislative session with HB 997 as well as SB 2426. If the task force is able to present its study and convince legislatures of the benefits, mobile betting could fare better in a later session.

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