Mississippi Racing to Legalize Sports Betting, Tribal Casinos Could be First
As the post-PASPA dominoes fall into place, it appears that the state of Mississippi could be the next state to legalize sports betting behind Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. In this case, 4th place isn’t bad at all. The state’s goal is to get the sports betting framework passed and in place by the end of summer, just before the football season. They’re not the only state with this goal in mind, but they are the closest to accomplishing this of the remaining non-sports betting states.
According to Legal Sports Report, Jay McDaniel, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission made the following comments about the state’s expected timeframe:
“Basically, we have been preparing regulations on our end to properly regulate this new form of gaming on our casino floors, and those should be in place soon,” McDaniel said. “Likewise, I think many of our operators have been working on their end to put something in place as soon as it is feasible. Best guess is by the end of summer, we will see some sportsbooks in place in some of our casinos.”
Rather impressively, Mississippi lawmakers had the foresight to legalize fantasy sports and open up the door to legalize sports betting within their state last year when they made modifications to their existing Gaming Control Act. The following provision, which prohibited sports betting in Mississippi, was removed during last year’s modifications:
No wagering shall be allowed on the outcome of any athletic event, nor on any matter to be determined during an athletic event, nor on the outcome of any event which does not take place on the premises.
The removal of this provision, and the modifications to include language addressing fantasy sports, has opened the door to legalized sports betting in Mississippi and there are several casinos chomping at the bit to start taking wagers.
Tribal Casinos Leading the Way
Tribal Casinos are at the forefront of the sports betting movement within Mississippi. And, there’s a great chance that tribal casinos will be the first to offer sports betting even before the state presumably finalizes its framework on June 21st.
On Thursday, May 31st, the Choctaw Tribe, located within Mississippi, approved amendments to their gaming regulations to include sports betting. They are now positioned to be the first casinos to take sports bets due to their amendments and the two gaming acts that apply to their tribe. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) allows federally-recognized tribes to participate in Class III gaming, which can include sports betting. However, this only applies to the state for which the tribe resides in.
Since, Mississippi approved legal sports betting last year, it meant that the tribe officially met both requirements. And, once PASPA was overturned, there was nothing left to stand in the way of the Choctaw tribe offering sports betting at their 3 casinos other than making amendments to their gaming regulations.
Including the Choctaw casinos, there are nearly 30 overall casinos within the state. The current regulations require that all sports betting be done within the casinos on land or on water. Also, bettors must be at least 21 years of age and mobile betting can only be done on casino grounds.
What’s Next for Mississippi?
The state lawmakers and gaming commission will meet on June 21st to presumably finalize any sports betting loose ends and decide on the details for a planned launch. This meeting may also include discussions on potential changes to current mobile gambling regulations. As for now, the Choctaw casinos will lead the sports betting charge in Mississippi with the rest of the state’s casinos right behind them.
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