Mississippi to Study Online Gambling

Mississippi to Study Online GamblingAn independent task force has been established in Mississippi for the purpose of studying both online gambling and wagering on sporting events.

At the behest of House Gaming Committee Chairman Richard Bennett (R-MS), the task force will examine Internet gambling and provide unbiased and detailed results that have yet to be touched upon by previous studies. Bennett intends for Mississippi and other states to use the data in order to determine the advantages and disadvantages of online gambling legislation.

Bennett chose the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Allen Godfrey, to serve as chairman of the new task force. Godfrey then selected more than half a dozen state government representatives and gaming industry experts to join him in conducting the research, the Sun Herald reported.

Those chosen as part of the task force are leaders in a variety of areas such as law, finance, education, tourism, information technology, and compulsive gambling. The members will meet for the first time in May at the Southern Gaming Summit to be held in Biloxi, Mississippi.

A time table of the end of this year has been set for the group’s findings to be presented. Bennett made it clear that the creation of the task force does not in and of itself endorse online gambling or sports betting. Rather, it will allow for a comprehensive analysis.

First on the agenda of those commissioned to undertake the study will be a thorough examination of the three states that launched Internet gambling regimes last year. The ability to keep out both minors and problem gamblers is a huge concern and will be looked at quite closely, Godfrey said.

That is one area where Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are doing very well, according to Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas. During testimony before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade in December, Pappas insisted that there have been no instances of underaged gambling in any of the three states.

What has not been working particularly well have been credit card deposits and determining the true location of those wishing to access the online gaming sites. Despite the legality, some banks and credit card companies continue to decline deposits. And some players near the borders of regulated states are being identified as situated out-of-state.

While the study was originally going to be restricted to online gambling only, Bennett decided to include sports betting at the request of legislators. Should any of those lawmakers propose the regulation of online gambling in the future, the findings will be available for perusal.

One such lawmaker may be State Rep. Bobby Moak, who introduced online gambling bills in both 2012 and 2013. Neither failed to pick up any traction. Perhaps Moak’s colleagues will see online gambling in a new light once the study has been completed.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett