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Mississippi Online Sports Betting Bill Fails in 2024

Mississippi's attempt to legalize online sports betting in 2024 fell short due to a lack of consensus among casinos and Senate concerns over gambling addiction. Despite House support, negotiations failed, leaving stakeholders disappointed but optimistic for future legislation.
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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: May 9, 2024

DRAFT

Mississippi's online sports betting legislation, once poised for passage in 2024, ultimately hit a roadblock, echoing similar scenarios seen in other states this year. The failure to reach an agreement led to the demise of HB774, a bill that would have allowed mobile sports betting in the state. The legislative session concluded without the bill's passage, leaving stakeholders, lawmakers, and citizens questioning why.

 

Key Moments:

  • Stalled Legislation Due to Lack of Consensus: The failure of Mississippi's online sports betting bill in 2024 was primarily due to a lack of consensus among the state's casinos and concerns raised by the Senate regarding gambling addiction. Despite receiving significant support in the House, the bill faltered as negotiations failed to bridge the gap between the different stakeholders. This lack of agreement ultimately led to the bill's demise.
  • Senate's Demands and Negotiation Challenges: The Senate's demands, including proposals to prohibit credit card use for online betting and implement a lengthy in-person registration period, presented significant challenges during negotiations. These demands were viewed as barriers by the House, which sought a more flexible approach to online sports betting. The failure to find common ground on these issues contributed to the breakdown of negotiations and the eventual failure of the bill.
  • Optimism for Future Legislation: Despite the setbacks faced in 2024, there remains optimism for the future of online sports betting legislation in Mississippi. Representative Casey Eure, chair of the House Gaming Committee, expressed determination to reintroduce the bill in 2025. He aims to address concerns raised by the Senate while emphasizing the potential economic benefits of legalized online sports betting for the state. This commitment to pursuing legislative action reflects a broader acknowledgment of the evolving landscape of sports betting and the need to adapt to meet the demands of Mississippians.

 

The demise of HB774 came down to a lack of consensus among Mississippi's casinos and concerns from the Senate regarding increased gambling addiction. Despite overwhelming support from the House, which passed the bill by a significant margin, the Senate hesitated. Representative Casey Eure, chair of the House Gaming Committee, lamented the Senate's lack of enthusiasm for mobile sports betting, citing it as a missed opportunity for the state. He emphasized the high demand for such services among Mississippians, noting that he received unprecedented support for the bill.

One significant hurdle was the tie-in of HB774 with SB2780, which sought to protect existing Mississippi casinos from further competition. While the House embraced online sports betting, the Senate's decision to attach a strike-all amendment removing any mention of it complicated matters. The attempt to appease smaller casinos along the Gulf Coast further muddled negotiations. This pairing ultimately backfired, leaving HB774 in a precarious position.

The Senate's staunch stance on its demands, including prohibiting credit card use for online betting and a lengthy in-person registration period, hindered negotiations. Despite the House's willingness to compromise, the Senate failed to respond to their offers, leading to missed deadlines and a lack of progress. Representative Eure's attempts to salvage the bill with a last-minute effort were fruitless, as the Senate remained resolute in its position.

While some senators expressed relief at the bill's failure, others, including Eure, recognized the inevitability of legalizing online sports betting in Mississippi. Jay McDaniel, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, highlighted the decline in sports betting revenue over recent years, attributing it to neighboring states legalizing such activities. He stressed the need for Mississippi to adapt to the changing landscape and capture potential revenue lost to neighboring states.

Representative Eure remains optimistic, vowing to reintroduce the bill in 2025 and hoping for constructive dialogue with Senate colleagues in the interim. He emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue, especially with the rise of illegal online betting sites. Despite the setbacks of 2024, Eure is determined to push for the legalization of mobile sports betting, aiming to ensure consumer protection and boost the state's revenue.

 

“I think the Senate just didn’t have an appetite for mobile sports betting, which is a shame because we’re losing millions to illegal sites. I believe this is something Mississippians really want.” –

 

In conclusion, the failure of Mississippi's online sports betting legislation in 2024 reflects a clash of interests and concerns, leaving stakeholders and legislators with unresolved issues. While the bill's demise is a setback, it underscores the need for continued dialogue and collaboration to address the challenges and opportunities of online sports betting in Mississippi.

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