Gunn: Lawmakers “not in favor” of mobile sports betting

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With the 2021 Legislative Session less than a month away, the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association (MGHA) is working avidly towards the implementation of mobile sports betting in Mississippi.

This past Wednesday, the Senate Gaming Committee, chaired by Senator David Blount, held a hearing in order to discuss the possibility of Mississippi becoming the 15th state to legalize mobile sports betting.

“It’s not a given yet,” MGHA Executive Director Larry Gregory said. “If you know Chairman Blount, he’s very methodical and wants to make sure everything is lined up before we take that giant step into offering this to our customers, but early on, I think the numbers are looking good. I think a lot of people would like to have it offered here, so I think we will see some version of legislation on mobile sports betting this year.”

Gregory also mentioned that, if passed, the state would follow the “successful” model set forth by Nevada, which requires a player to travel to one of the state’s casinos in order to set up a mobile sports wagering account.

“We’re going to follow the Nevada model, which people have to come in and we’re going to have to verify who they are and the credit facility—whatever they’re going to be charging,” he explained. “Several states have done this, we’ve listened, and the gaming commission has been on this. I think they’re loaded and ready to go, regulatory-wise.”

While Gregory seems optimistic that the legislature will pass a mobile sports betting bill this next go-round, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn recently voiced a dissenting opinion during a Monday radio interview.

“I have been in consultation with my chairman and those who are in charge with the responsibility of knowing this,” Gunn said, referring to the House Gaming Committee. “They are very cautious about that at this point. I think, right now, they are not in favor of it.”

During the previous session, three bills—House Bills 172, 941, and 959—were all shot down without a floor vote, however, the topic may be more imperative than ever, considering the gaming industry in Mississippi has lost over $400 million this year, in comparison to 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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