Mississippi Legalizes Sports Betting

Mississippi welcome sign with the words "Birthplace of America's Music"

For the past few weeks, officials and gambling companies in the United States have been scrambling to position themselves now that a federal law forbidding sports gambling has been struck down. Each state can decide for itself whether or not to legalize sports betting. Mississippi is the latest to get on the sports betting legalization train.

Details of potential legalization

Numerous states have already legalized sports betting and begun to accept wagers on sporting events. The first of those was Delaware, closely followed by New Jersey. Now Mississippi is the latest state to legalize sports betting.

The state’s gambling regulators voted on the issue June 21, and the 28 casinos in Mississippi can offer sports betting starting in July.

Rules were initially published back in May, and there have been a few minor changes made since then by the state’s Gaming Commission.

The rules will come into effect 30 days following the approval. Those who are going to be offering sports books will have to have the relevant licenses with the Gaming Commission before they can offer sports betting.

A number of parties have already applied for licenses. Equipment also has to be tested by the state before it can be used for sports betting.

The state altered its laws for the regulation and legalization of fantasy sports in 2017, thereby opening up the state to allow legalized sports betting. However, sports betting could not be offered legally until the recent Supreme Court decision at the start of May.

Mississippi outlook

The catch with these new rules is that only the casinos in Mississippi will be allowed to offer sports betting.

The state’s casinos enjoyed a prosperous decade during the 1990s, but they suffered a significant decrease in revenues after the legalization of online gambling. With this latest ruling, they will start to attract more customers because they can offer sports betting and the online gambling companies cannot.

It is believed that sports betting would only bring in the region of $10m (£7.6m) in state tax revenues, but there will be a knock-on effect in the local economy, as higher numbers of visitors will lead to a greater demand for hotel rooms, other types of gambling, and restaurants.

Casinos will pay a 12% tax on the sports wagers they take in minus the payouts. They will be allowed to accept bets for any Olympic, college, or professional events and other types of propositions, except for elections. The commission can veto any type of wager.

Other interesting parts of these new rules include casinos not being allowed to accept bets from those participating in sports teams involved in the given wager. They are also required to report any suspicious wagers on which have more than $5,000 (£3785) is staked. Casinos will have to obtain detailed info about anyone who wagers or wins over $10,000.

What about the opposition?

When these new rules were proposed, only two people offered written opposition to their introduction. One of them was Kenny Digby, the executive director of the Christian Action Commission.

He believes these new rules will lead to churches being under increased pressure for benevolence needs and that: “There will always be more losers than winners, if there are any winners.”

Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the PGA tour are also opposed to these changes. One of their demands is to have the casinos report immediately to them any suspicious betting patterns associated with their sports league. Mississippi will comply with some of these demands, but not all.

There are many concerns in these organizations about what impact the legalization of sports betting will have on their sport’s integrity. That is why they campaigned so hard to stop the Supreme Court from approving sports betting legalization.

Now that that battle has been lost, they want to obtain “integrity fees” from gambling companies.