Mississippi has been a state that has made shallow passes at online poker regulation the last few years but each attempt has died a quick death. After a recent report in the Sun Herald, it appears that it may be some time before the state gives the issue any serious consideration.
Rep. Richard Bennett, chairman of the MS House Gaming Committee, created the Internet Gaming and Sports Betting Task Force and began a study regarding the technical, financial and legal consideration of sports betting and internet gambling. The resulting report painted favorable opinions regarding sports betting but little interest in online poker.
Little Interest in Internet Gambling – Will Sit Back and Watch
Not surprisingly, the Task Force report painted a bleak picture regarding internet gambling for the state. According to Bennett, “In Mississippi right now, it’s just too early for us to look at going to Internet gaming.” If iGaming was legalized, he said that it would be strictly within Mississippi borders. Bennett claims only half the people in the state have a computer or internet access.
“We’re a state that’s going to stay back and watch,” Bennett explained. He explained that there’s little interest among lawmakers to introduce iGaming, especially after the perceived lackluster performance in New Jersey. The Sun Herald article mentioned that New Jersey only collected 10 percent of estimated revenues in year one of iGaming, clearly going by the most generous of estimates and ignoring the fact that overall gaming is currently up 11% year-over-year.
Sports Betting Viewed As Favorable and Likely if New Jersey Succeeds in Challenge
The Task Force report provided stats that highlighted the potential of sports betting and fantasy sports. In 2013, Nevada took $3.6 billion in bets on sports with nearly half of that on football. Sadly, the majority of betting on sports in this country is done illegally and unregulated.
In regards to fantasy sports, the reports highlighted that over 33 million Americans played DFS in 2013 with 70% of that action being in football. Hard Rock International VP Jon Lucas was quoted saying that sports betting is “going to get approved. It’s just a matter of when.”
Wallach – The last thing leagues want to see is unregulated sports betting in New Jersey. But that's dependant on a NJ win. #SLAC15— Sports Lawyers Assn. (@sportslawyers) May 15, 2015
Currently, all eyes are on the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. They are expected to rule soon on New Jersey’s challenge of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. MS gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey said that while MS had never given the issue serious consideration, that could change if the ban were lifted.