Mississippi gaming committee working to develop mobile sports betting

With Louisiana now in the sports betting game, state leaders are working to develop mobile betting that will keep money flowing at Mississippi sportsbooks.
With Louisiana now in the sports betting game, state leaders are working to develop mobile...
With Louisiana now in the sports betting game, state leaders are working to develop mobile betting that will keep money flowing at Mississippi sportsbooks.(David Graf)
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 9:12 AM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi casinos are facing a new fight with an old nemesis. Louisiana just opened its first sportsbooks and, by the end of the year, bayou betting will include sports wagers made through mobile apps right in the palm of your hand. 

Mississippi is on the wrong side of the evolution because state lawmakers still have not legalized mobile sportsbook betting. Members of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association say that puts local casinos at a competitive disadvantage. 

However, we’ve learned the House Gaming Committee is crafting a mobile betting app bill. The draft under consideration ups the ante in the competitive world of sportsbooks and it protects the investments made inside coast casinos.

Casey Eure is the chair of the House Gaming Committee, which is currently working on legislation to give casinos access to mobile sports betting apps. 

“When we pass mobile sports betting, we’ll do it the right way,” he said.

In Eure’s mind, the right way is to protect the casinos that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in their Mississippi properties. He says any legislation his committee adopts will prevent any mobile sports betting company from opening their own books. 

“I want to make sure we can protect our bricks and mortar,” Rep. Eure said. “If they want to team up with Draft Kings and Fanduel, that’s fine.”

In other words, Mississippi casinos that already have sportsbook partnerships with third party betting groups would be able to use their mobile apps. However, any legislation Eure’s committee approves will say mobile betting companies without a partnership are unable to operate in Mississippi. 

“You’re going to have to have a bricks and mortar investment in Mississippi,” he reiterated.

Eure reached out to Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association (MGHA) director Larry Gregory Tuesday about the mobile sportsbook legislation to get that groups input. The MGHA represents the state’s casinos. Rep. Eure is confident he’ll have a bill ready for the House gaming committee by Jan. 1, 2022.

“My plans are to pass something out of my committee,” he said.  If the House and Senate pass a mobile sports betting app bill and Gov. Tate Reeves signs it, the Mississippi Gaming Commission can then include online wagering in its regulations.”

January first is when Louisiana regulators expect to launch mobile betting in that state, so getting a Mississippi bill out of the House and into the Mississippi Senate as quickly as possible is at the top of Rep. Eure’s 2022 agenda. 

He appreciates why Mississippi casinos can’t afford to be on the losing side of the mobile betting app competition for too long.  “I think we’re close,” he said.

Currently, Louisiana, Tennessee and 16 other states allow online sports wagering. As we noted, Mississippi does not. Let’s expand that out just a bit. When it comes to just placing a sports bet, the American Gaming Association says Mississippi is one of 29 states plus the District of Columbia where sports wagers are legal.

Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes approved sports betting last November, but the measure wasn’t signed into law until June. Hurricane Ida further delayed the Louisiana State Police from reviewing casino applications. But last Friday, four Louisiana casinos received approval to start taking sports wagers as soon as their systems were ready.

The Caesars Sportsbook in New Orleans made sure it was at the front of the line. The same parent company also opened a sportsbook within the same hour at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City. The Boomtown Casino in Harvey and L’Auberge Baton Rouge opened their sports books Monday.

In addition, the Paragon Casino in Marksville has been taking sports bets since Oct. 6. That property is owned by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and is not directly regulated by the state, but by tribal officials and the federal government.

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