Casino Gambling

Want to bet on the football game? Two lawmakers don’t want it to be legal in Mississippi

While most states and casino operators eagerly await the Supreme Court ruling that could make sports betting legal, two Mississippi legislators have introduced a bill that would prohibit all sports betting except fantasy sports in the state.

Rep. Roun McNeal, R-Leakesville, elected in 2016 to represent George, Greene and Perry counties, and Rep. Nick Bain, D-Corinth, introduced HB 1113. It calls for amending the Mississippi Gaming Control Act so that “no wagering shall be allowed on the outcome of any athletic event” or any event that takes place outside of a legal casino.

It exempts fantasy sports from the regulation.

The bill was referred to the House Gaming Committee, along with HB 1154, which would create a committee to study sports betting in Mississippi. It was introduced by Rep. Beckie Currie, R-Brookhaven, chair of the tourism committee.

Last year HB 967 legalized fantasy sports in Mississippi and also opened the door for sports betting if the federal government ever overturned the ban.

At that time, Rep. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said if Mississippi was among the first states to capture some of the estimated $150 billion wagered illegally each year on sports betting, it could bring another major boom to the casinos and the Coast.

“We feel this could be another 1990s for the state of Mississippi,” DeLano said. That was a decade of boom in construction, jobs and tax revenue for Coast cities and state.

Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, met with casino officials from New Jersey and Pennsylvania this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court will have a decision on sports betting by June and Godfrey said, “We are trying to prepare ourselves for the outcome.”

If the court overturns the ban, he said it could be an opportunity for horse racing or other sports betting in Mississippi.