Tunica Unchained: Sen. Philip Moran Looks To Expand Mississippi Online Sports Betting

Posted on January 28, 2021 - Last Updated on January 29, 2021

If Louisiana rolls out online sportsbooks in the parishes that approved legalized sports betting this year, it may see similar activity over its eastern border.

A new bill that could greatly expand Mississippi online sports betting currently rests in the Senate.

The bill aims to address one of the oddities of the legal sports wagering landscape in the Magnolia State. It’s somewhat similar to Louisiana, although even more restrictive based on your locations in the state.

As it stands, Mississippi sports betting fairly restrictive

Right now, online sports betting is technically legal but seriously restricted in Mississippi.

State law only allows online wagers while bettors are physically located in casinos. While bettors could theoretically place wagers online while at a retail sportsbook, that really defeats the purpose of sports betting apps.

Thus, no online sportsbooks currently operate in the state. It simply isn’t worth the overhead. That could change, and it could change this year. Sen. Philip Moran has filed SB 2732, which would open up online wagering.

What would new Mississippi sports betting look like?

Mobile betting would be available statewide. The state wouldn’t license online books directly; they would still have to operate under the license of a Mississippi casino, as they do in almost every state with both casinos and legal online wagering.

Bettors would be able to register for online sportsbook accounts remotely, as the bill does not mandate the dreaded in-person account registration. It puts the Mississippi Gaming Commission in charge of regulating online betting and subjects sports betting revenue to the same 4%-8% graduated tax that other gambling revenues face.

While 4% would be a national-low rate for sports betting taxes (the current national low is 6.75% in Iowa and Nevada), the ceiling for that is quite low at $49,999 and below in a month’s time. All monthly gross revenue of $50,000 to $133,999 is taxed at 6%, and all revenue upwards of $134,000 in a month hits at the top rate of 8%.

The bill also does not mandate the use of official data for any wagers. Additionally, there are no restrictions for betting on college sports.

Is Mississippi racing Louisiana to get online sports betting first?

It’s very early in the legislative process, so much of the current framework could change. It’s also too early to tell what the odds are for such a bill to become law in the current term.

That means Louisiana and Mississippi are essentially in a dead heat when it comes to online sportsbooks. While voters in most of the Pelican State did approve sports betting in their parishes last year, it’s not clear exactly what the legal landscape will be or when the industry will go live.

It’s possible that if Mississippi does pass this bill, the market in the state could be more open. Louisiana could require bettors to register at retail sportsbooks, for example. Mandating the use of official data or banning betting on collegiate sports are also possibilities.

In Louisiana, we don’t know what online sportsbooks will look like. In Mississippi, we don’t know if this bill has any legs to it, at least in its current form.

On both sides of the Mississippi River, the timeline for the launch of online sports betting platforms is a mystery.

Photo by AP / Rogelio V. Solis
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance copywriter and journalist in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa. He covers the intersections of sports with business, gambling, and the law.

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