BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – Online sports betting is currently not allowed in Mississippi, unless you are on casino property. But many people want that to change, and there are efforts underway to legalize mobile betting.
A legislative task force is studying and creating recommendation for expanding the law to allow mobile sports wagering.
State Senator Mike Thompson, a Republican from Long Beach, is on that task force. He wants to make sure whatever is decided is in the best interests of Mississippians and the businesses already operating in our state.
“My primary concern is how to make sure that we don’t do anything in Mississippi that jeopardizes the destination gaming product that Mississippi gaming has been built on. That’s very important to me,” Thompson said. “At one point in time we had nearly 80% of our casinos with drive-in traffic. And we know that those patrons don’t necessarily stay on casino properties full-time. They go out in the community. They eat at restaurants. They go fishing and visit towns like Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs, Pass Christian. And so we know know that that destination gaming product is important to the entire coast.”
He wants to make sure that if online betting is implemented in Mississippi, its done in a responsible way.
“There’s something about the human psyche, when you drive up to a casino, walk through the doors, have your ID checked, and walk in and place your bet. That’s tangible. You know that that’s happening. I think we all have to acknowledge that sometimes things that happen on our phone are intangible. Including exchanging money. So we have to be certain the proper rules and regulations are in place to address underage gambling, compulsive gambling, people who abuse it.”
The Legislature’s Mobile-Online Sports Betting Task Force includes a diverse group of stake holders. By law, the 13 members must include 11 specific appointees:
- The Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission or a designee
- The Commissioner of the Department of Revenue or a designee
- The Chairman of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association or his/her designee
- Three members appointed by the Chair of the Senate Gaming Committee, at least one of whom must be a licensed casino operator in the state
- Three members appointed by the Chair of the House Gaming Committee, at least one of whom must be a licensed casino operator in the state
- A member of the House Gaming Committee appointed by the Chair of the House Gaming Committee
- A member of the Senate Gaming Committee appointed by the Chair of the Senate Gaming Committee
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