Despite being one of the first states to legalize sports betting at brick and mortar locations back in 2018, Mississippi has been slow to act in setting up mobile sports betting within the state. In contrast to states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, which quickly established a licensing process and began allowing sports betting operators to conduct business, Mississippi has hardly even taken a look at the topic. That much is expected to change thanks to a few notable recent happenings in an around the capital, Jackson.
Mobile Sports Betting Task Force
The wheels of mobile sports betting legalization in Mississippi started to spin back in May, when governor Tate Reeves called for the establishment of what he referred to as a ‘Mobile Sports Betting Task Force.’ This special group is to meet periodically to discuss how mobile sports betting should look, who should oversee it, and so on. The task force has since met a few times and is on the verge of presenting their findings to state lawmakers with the goal of making the decision to legalize mobile sports betting or not as clear-cut as possible.
The Mobile Sports Betting Task Force is comprised of 13 members that come from a wide variety of different background. From casino operators who are concerned what mobile sports betting might mean for in-person visits to their properties, to prospective online operators, the task force will cover all sides of the topic and weigh the pros and cons of mobile sports betting legalization.
Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director, Jay McDaniel, has helped the public understand what the task force is set out to do. In a statement, he said that the Task Force will “take all of the findings and conclusions, any recommendations that came out of that task force and then it will be up to the legislator on what to do with those findings in a bill.” What this really means is that even when lawmakers are presented with the task force’s findings, no bill is guaranteed to come as a result. With the topic of mobile sports betting legalization being more divisive in Mississippi than most other states, there is little expectation that online sports betting will go live in the deep South any time in 2024. With that said however, it is encouraging to see some movement in the direction of legalization.
Even though few are expecting Mississippi to legalize mobile sports betting with any real urgency, it would behoove the state to act sooner than later. Neighboring states like Arkansas and Tennessee have mobile sports betting already and are only expanding the number of operators they license. Each and every week, Mississippians drive across state borders for the sole purpose of placing wagers. In terms of tax dollars alone, there is a reason to think Mississippi should act sooner than later. On top of all of this, Mississippi is a state in dire need of additional tax revenue. If a mobile sports betting legalization bill is brought to the forefront this year, the tax revenue expected to be generated will be one of the major talking points in Jackson.