Mississippi lawmaker tries once again to legalise online sports betting

| By Daniel O'Boyle
A Mississippi lawmaker has filed a bill that would permit operators in the state to accept online sports bets, the fourth such attempt to legalise the vertical.

Representative Cedric Burnett introduced House Bill 184, which would amend the Mississippi Code to allow a “digital platform” to also accept sports wagers, on 4 January when the 2022 legislative session opened.

This platform would be defined as a sports betting or racing operation that takes bets via the internet.

Mississippi’s existing land-based licensees may be permitted to offer online sports betting themselves, or an online operator may take bets on behalf of a licensee. The bill did not provide clear details on the number of operators that a licensee may partner with, but given that it specifies that “an operator” can partner with a licensee, this could be limited at one.

Operators that partner with licensees must be approved by the state gaming Commission and receive a manufacturer and distributor’s licence.

Online sports betting revenue will be subject to the same taxes as other gaming in Mississippi: 4% for gross revenue up to $50,000 per month, 6% for totals between $50,000 and $134,000 and 8% for operators with higher revenue.

The bill has been referred to two committees: the House Gaming Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Mississippi was among the first states in the US to legalise sports betting, launching in August 2018. However, online gambling is currently not permitted despite numerous attempts to introduce the vertical.

In 2019, Burnett first introduced an online betting bill – House Bill 1481. However, this bill died in committee without ever seeing the floor.

In 2020, Burnett introduced another bill, House Bill 172, which saw the same fate.

Last year, Senator Scott DeLane introduced a bill that would have permitted wagering online and via mobile. Again, the bill died in committee without a hearing.

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