Mississippi Online Sports Betting Bill Passes House Vote

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The Mississippi House of Representatives recently passed a bill that aims to legalize online sports betting in the state. House Bill 774 passed late last week 98-14 in favor at the state capitol in Jackson (pictured).

The bill now has to pass the Senate before it can be sent to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves.

Retail sportsbooks in Mississippi have been legal since 2018. Operators are currently allowed to launch their mobile betting apps for use inside retail sportsbooks, although out of 11 operators, only BetMGM has taken this up.

Representative Casey Eure (R-116) is the bill’s prime sponsor. He says Mississippi online sports betting could bring in some $25 million to $35 million a year in taxes.  A state study last year found that tens of thousands of state residents per month try to use legal online sportsbooks in neighboring states and are rejected by geofencing software.

Estimates say Mississippi is also one the biggest U.S. markets for offshore online sportsbooks.

“We’re seeing our Mississippians trying to place a sports bet, and they are getting rejected,” said Eure.

“We’re also seeing them drive across the state lines, place a bet, and then come back to Mississippi.”

The Bill’s Details

HB 774 would be looking to change all of that.

If passed, it will increase competition among sportsbooks. Under its framework, all 26 Mississippi casinos will be given the opportunity to launch online sports betting with a partner.

Players must be at least 21 years of age to play, and betting will be available from anywhere within the state.

“It would allow you, in the state of Mississippi, to place a mobile sports bet on your phone in the comfort of your home, in your vehicle, or wherever you might be,” Eure said.

The proposed tax structure is a scaling one that increases based on operator’s revenues. It starts at 4% for operators with less than $50,000 per month in revenues, and goes up to 8% for those with taxable income of more than $134,000.

The Bill originally contained specific funding aims for the increased tax revenues. These requirements were cut during discussions at the state capitol, leaving the entire tax bill to go straight into the state general fund.

During discussions, House Minority Leader Representative Robert Johnson (D-94) introduced an amendment that would see a portion of the tax revenue earmarked for localities in a 40-mile radius, where the most sports betting takes place.

However, this amendment was swiftly rejected by a GOP-dominated legislature. The passed version of the bill contains no changes to usage of tax revenues from sports betting established for retail sportsbook tax funds in 2018.

Johnson still voted in favor of the proposal, saying he saw mobile sports betting legalization in the state as an inevitability.

Next Steps

House Bill 774 is not the only betting bill in contention in Mississippi in the early months of 2024.

Two others are also seeing discussion, although they have yet to reach a full House vote. They are HB271 and HB365. Both bills were similar to HB774, but were pared down during committee discussions.

As the front-runner, 774 will be debated in the Mississippi State Senate within the next month. Language is included that sets a speculative July 1 date for it to become law, if it passes the Senate and Governor Reeves agrees.

Three out of four neighboring states to Mississippi currently offer a legal online market, servicing fans of sports betting in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

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