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Mobile sports betting one step closer to becoming a reality in Mississippi

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Mobile sports betting could soon become a reality in Mississippi after more than a year of deliberation by experts and lawmakers.

The Senate Gaming Committee voted to pass House Bill 774 ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for committees to report on general bills originating in the other chamber. The legislation, coined the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act, would allow residents 21 and up to place legal wagers on sporting events from mobile devices outside the four walls of the state’s 26 brick-and-mortar casinos.

In order to protect the casinos, the legislature instilled a stipulation in the bill that requires sports betting platforms such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM to partner with a Mississippi-based casino to run their operations. The casinos are not allowed to partner with multiple mobile sports betting vendors but platforms will be able to partner with numerous casinos.

Last legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill to create a study group to look into mobile sports betting and how it would impact the Magnolia State. Mississippi Gaming Commissioner Jay McDaniel, who served on the study group, contended that the results would help bridge the gap of the drop in revenue experienced by the state’s gaming industry in recent years.

“We would definitely see an increase in revenue just because it would reach all corners of the state,” McDaniel said in February. “I believe we would capture some from a state like Alabama that doesn’t have it right now legally.”

McDaniel envisions a scenario in which casinos link their rewards programs to a user’s mobile sports betting account and offer certain prizes, such as free rooms or discounted meals, to lure a patron into their facilities. This would be the ultimate win-win for both users and casinos.

“I think the casinos will definitely offer their rewards programs through those apps,” McDaniel continued. “Maybe you’re betting in Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford, or Starkville, but if you’re betting on a Gulf Coast casino’s app, they may offer you rewards to come stay down there. That might be an advantage to people who don’t normally get down there. Now you’ve got a reason to play. Win or lose, maybe you collect some points and get a free hotel stay and meal out of it.”

If the bill makes it all the way through the legislative process and is approved by Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi will join 29 other states and Washington D.C. in legalizing some form of mobile sports betting. Legislatures in five other states are also currently debating similar bills.

The Senate has until April 11 to hold a floor vote on HB 774.

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