When sports betting became a legalized option in the United States, Mississippi was one of the very first states to offer services. With established casinos already in place, it was not difficult for operators to begin offering retail services. Now in their second year, the state has yet to allow anything other than retail betting. There are no online or mobile services. However, that might change if new legislation is able to move forward.
In January, HB 172 was introduced by Representative Cedric Burnett that is one of five gaming bills to move on to the House Gaming Committee for consideration. Two bills are similar in the fact that they would offer mobile sports betting in the state. With Burnett’s measure, the 24 land-based casinos in the state would be able to offer mobile betting.
The tax rate would be lower for the mobile gaming than retail outlets though, based on Burnett’s bill. A 6% tax would be set instead of 8%. The lower percentage would only apply if the gaming revenue gross comes in at over $134,000. This would be the lowest rate in the US regarding online sports betting, if the measure is approved.
Without a mobile component, Mississippi is losing out on a ton of revenues. The state does allow players to use a mobile device to place a wager, but it can only be done while at a casino. Mississippi already does well with retail betting, having seen $370 million in sports bets placed last year. This provided $5.3 million in revenues.
If this much is done via retail outlets, the potential for the state to earn even more is there. With players not limited to a casino, even more wagers could be placed at any time. According to Mississippi Gaming Commission chief Allen Godfrey, some lawmakers want mobile gaming, but he doesn’t feel it is something that will come to fruition. The industry has reportedly not agreed on the right product.
Legislature in the state will adjourn on May 7th and lawmakers have until March 3rd to move the bill forward. Only a few weeks remain for movement to take place.
Running the Market
Right now, the state is basically the only option in the south when it comes to retail sports betting. Players travel from Alabama and Georgia to take part, even Tennessee. While Tennessee has passed sports betting legislation, the state has yet to launch services.
It seems the state has a foothold in the market and the reason that wager numbers are so high can be attributed to residents as well as players from neighboring states. If mobile gaming were to be approved, those in other states could easily cross into Mississippi, place and bet and go back home.
The potential for additional earnings is quite high due to many factors, but it all boils down to legislation. Will a mobile sports betting bill move forward in the state? Will Mississippi ever launch mobile sports betting or remain a retail only state?