When the Mississippi Legislature meets in January, the legalization of mobile sports betting is expected to receive consideration.
Though off-site mobile sports wagering is illegal in Mississippi, retail sport betting is permitted inside casinos.
Gambling Locations In Mississippi
Across the Magnolia State, 26 state-regulated casinos are in operation. Of those, 12 are located along the Gulf Coast, including eight in the Biloxi area.
Under current law, mobile sports wagering is legal only if the bettor is somewhere on casino property while using a smartphone or computer to place a bet.
Two hotel-casinos allow on-site mobile sports betting. Both are MGM Resorts properties, the Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica and the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi.
The legislative session is scheduled to run from Jan. 4 to April 3 at the Capitol in Jackson. Discussions are expected to occur regarding the number of neighboring states that have already legalized mobile sports betting, or are considering it.
Against this backdrop, Gambling.com asked Jay McDaniel, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, about mobile sports betting and other gaming issues.
Gambling.com: Headed into the new year, what are some factors that will help the gaming industry in Mississippi thrive?
Jay McDaniel: As always, a healthy economy is important. Our casinos rely heavily on tourism, and visitors increase when travel costs are down and when there is more disposable income to spend on travel and entertainment.
Additionally, the operators in Mississippi have always done a good job of reinvesting in their properties, and I believe they will continue to do so to provide a quality product of both gaming and non-gaming amenities for patrons to enjoy.
Mobile Sports Betting Decided at Legislature
GDC: As you know, mobile sports betting is legal in two neighboring states (Tennessee and Louisiana) and up for a Racing Commission vote Dec. 30 in Arkansas. What do you say to those who want to legalize mobile sports betting in Mississippi?
JM: The legalization of sports betting is entirely up to our state Legislature. To those in Mississippi who wish to have it, I would say contact your state senator or representative and let them know your thoughts.
GDC: Looking ahead to the legislative session, what are the key bills or issues facing gaming?
JM: Until we get into the session, I don’t know of any particular bills that will be up for consideration. Mobile sports wagering bills were sponsored last year, but did not make it to the floor for debate. Whether a bill is sponsored again and whether it gains any traction we will have to wait and see.
Mississippi Casinos Have Options for Tourists
GDC: What would you say about the gaming industry in Mississippi to encourage visitors to come try the casinos in the state?
JM: I believe Mississippi is one of the most desirable gaming destinations in the country. This is because we have multiple markets up and down the (Mississippi River) and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that provide places to visit beyond the gaming floor.
Each area has unique tourism opportunities that make a multiple day visit well worth it. Additionally, we have a diverse assortment of casino operators, many of which are well known in other markets in the country.
These different operators provide a variety of food, hotel, entertainment and amenity offerings that give our visitors options to try each time they come to visit our casinos.
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