Mississippi Representative Cedric Burnett has resurrected a bill to legalize mobile wagering in the state, having previously seen a similar proposal die without progressing to a committee hearing in 2019.
Burnett’s House Bill 172 aims to revise the state Gaming Control Act’s definition of a sports pool, and to define a platform as a person or entity that operates a sports pool or racebook over the internet.
While the Act currently states that wagers may only be placed by individuals present on a licensed vessel or cruise vessel, this would be changed to allow betting via approved platforms.
These platforms, provided they are licensed as a distributor by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, could be operated on behalf of a bricks-and-mortar sports betting licensee. The current $500 fee for a seller’s license would also apply to to distributors, with a further $500 payable to renew the certification.
Sports betting revenue exceeding $134,0000, that is generated through online and mobile platforms, would be subject to a 6% gross revenue tax, in addition to the 8% tax on all other revenue.
In addition, the definition of a sports pool would be tweaked to cover single-game bets, teasers, parlays, over-unders, moneylines, pools, exchange wagering, in-play wagering, proposition and straight bets. It would explicitly state that the term does not cover fantasy sports.
HB172 also aims to lift the prohibition on fantasy contests for collegiate sports. Should the bill pass into law, it would take effect from July 1, 2020, meaning that mobile betting could go live before the end of the year.
Burnett previously filed HB1481 in Mississippi’s 2019 legislative session, with a companion bill, S2667, filed in the state Senate. However each bill died without receiving a committee hearing.
The latest incarnation of the bill, which includes the same language as its 2019 incarnation, has been assigned to the House Gaming Committee. The Committee is due to run the rule over two other bills filed by Burnett; one to revise the locations where casinos can be based in Tunica County, and another to allow liquor stores to sell lottery products.
Earlier this month, the Mississippi Gaming Commission reported a 43.7% year-on-year decline in sports betting revenue for December.