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Gaming Commission OKs sports betting regulations

Las Vegas Sports Book. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

Let the countdown begin. Regulations have been approved for sports betting in Mississippi, and they will go into effect 30 days from today.

During the 2017 legislative session in Mississippi, lawmakers passed a bill that paved the way for sports betting in the state should it become legal, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling back on May 14th did just that.

As they do with current gaming in the state, the Mississippi Gaming Commission will oversee sports betting, and they were tasked with drawing up regulations for approval. After holding meetings and receiving public comment, the regulations were brought up for final approval this morning.

Executive Director of the MSGC Allen Godfrey said that while drawing up the regulations, they looked to the only successful model in the country. Similarly to the early 1990’s when gaming was established in Mississippi, they looked out West for assistance.

“Nevada has been dealing with legal sports betting since 1949, so we obviously went to their model because they have been doing it effectively since then. That’s really the model we’re using, so what you can do out there is generally what you’ll be able to do here,” he said.

One key difference is that, unlike Nevada, you will not be able to use an app to bet, and it must be done in a brick and mortar casino. 

Godfrey noted that the regulations are in place for those operating the casinos, and he explained that the average bettor will most likely be able to place their bet without any working knowledge of the specific regulations.

The full set of regulations can be seen by clicking here – Mississippi Sports Gaming Regulations

Without the existence of any professional sports in Mississippi, outside of minor league baseball, college sports reign supreme, and some are concerned about the potential effect of sports betting on the integrity of college athletics.

Godfrey noted that while the gaming commission will do everything in their power to ensure that the presence of sports betting in casinos does not affect the on-field product, at the end of the day, it’s still on the shoulders of the those involved with the programs.

“There’s tons of illegal betting out there, and it’s still going to be out there. If a person doesn’t have integrity, they’re not going to have any more or less today than they did prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Godfrey said.

Speaking on sports betting after the court’s decision, Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork seemed to echo Godfrey’s comments, and stated that it is up to them to promote a culture of integrity for their players.

“By all accounts, it looks like it will move forward, and with that, comes a responsibility to make sure that we have integrity around our student-athletes, our coaches, our staff and around our entire athletic department and stress that it is against NCAA rules to bet on sports. So, we are going to have to educate more and monitor more,” Bjork said. “The overall obligation is to make sure that there is the utmost integrity around how we operate our athletic program.”

Now that the regulations have been approved, the next question becomes, how much does Mississippi stand to gain? While there may not be a concrete indicator, Mississippi is the only state in the region to offer sports betting at this time which could bring in more of-of-state visitors.

Mississippi Tourism Director Craig Ray noted that even if sports betting doesn’t draw a large amount of revenue on its own, it brings people to Mississippi to spend their money.

“For every dollar spent at a resort, over 75 cents on the dollar is spent on everything other than gaming; the shows, the restaurants, the golf, and all of the other amenities that come along with it. This is another great amenity that will be offered, and we feel that a lot of people will take advantage of that. So, we should see some very positive tourism numbers with that,” Ray said.

As for the payouts, Godfrey stated that that state will have an 8% tax and the local tax will be 4%.

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