Mississippi Online Sports Betting Examined by Regulatory Task Force

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Mississippi’s “Mobile-Online Sports Betting Task Force” met for the first time this week to discuss a potential regulated Mississippi online sports betting market.

The state legislature passed a bill earlier this year creating a 13-member group, with the goal of considering the potential ramifications of legalizing mobile sports betting.

The task force is required to create a report on the market’s potential impact, which is due to the legislature by Dec. 15. The task force will meet again at least once before the report’s due date.

Mississippi was one of the first states to legalize sports betting after 2018’s repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). However, five years later, customers are still limited to Mississippi retail sportsbooks. Sports betting apps are available for customers to use while inside a retail venue, but only BetMGM has taken up this opportunity so far.

The Pros and Cons of Mobile Sports Betting

During Tuesday’s meeting, several speakers addressed the task force to share potential benefits and drawbacks of legalizing mobile sports wagering.

Based on feedback from casino representatives, if mobile sports betting is legalized in Mississippi, they would like mobile licenses to be tethered to retail casinos. There was also some concern from some casino representatives about mobile betting hurting the retail sports betting business.

Addressing the task force were representatives from Penn Entertainment, which will soon be rebranding its Barstool Sportsbook into ESPN Bet, and national leading sportsbook DraftKings.

They focused their presentations on the consumer protections available in a legal market, and the potential tax revenue increase should Mississippi legalize online sports betting.

Penn Entertainment’s Jason Tosches, the company’s director of public affairs and government relations, also pushed back on the idea that mobile sports betting would hurt physical casinos.

“We believe any notion that online sports betting would somehow negatively impact land-based casinos, lead to property closures, or damage the state’s existing regulatory framework is simply false,” Tosches said.

Across the U.S., mobile sports betting dominates retail sportsbooks monthly revenues by a wide margin. For just one example, consider the most recently legalized market of Kentucky.

Online sports betting in the Bluegrass State started three weeks after Kentucky retail sportsbooks, yet the month ended with online operators handling 10 times more bets and 90% of the $250 million opening month handle.

The Appetite for Legal Sports Betting in Mississippi

Data from GeoComply’s John Pappas, the company’s senior vice president of government and public affairs, revealed that there is a significant appetite for legal sports betting platforms in Mississippi.

GeoComply reported 1.72 million geolocation checks in Mississippi since the start of the 2023 college football season. That total represents Mississippians accessing legal sportsbooks in other states, but getting blocked from wagering on those platforms.

The attempts were conducted by more than 64,000 individual users. Additionally, GeoComply found that 1,702 players were geolocated in Mississippi and then traveled across state lines to take advantage of Tennessee online sportsbooks. Another 1,200 players did the same thing but with Louisiana sports betting.

Meanwhile, Mississippi’s task force will next meet on Nov. 13, and the group is expected to discuss what a 2024 mobile sports betting bill may look like during that meeting.

One thing almost all agreed on at the meeting is that regulated Mississippi online casinos are not part of this discussion and will not be coming anytime soon.

“I want to be clear that we are not advocating for iCasino to be put in this online sports betting legislation. I think we have broad alignment on that across maybe all or a significant majority of Mississippi’s casinos. I don’t necessarily think that would be helpful to getting online sports betting,” said Tosches.

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