Mississippi Ready to Fight for Sports Betting

by Jim Hall

The state of Mississippi is prepared to fight for the right to offer sports betting for their residents as well as visitors.

The fight for legalized sports betting has been ongoing for many years. Legislation currently restricts sports betting to four states in the US and New Jersey has been fighting steadily for years to be included. Now it seems Mississippi is joining the fight and not remotely prepared to back down.

Mississippi Gets Busy

Herb FriersonTo be able to offer sports betting, Mississippi will have to fight hard. Legislators of the state have been quite busy over the past month trying to see their goal come to fruition. Herb Frierson is the Revenue Commissioner for the state who recently presented a case for sports betting legalization that would provide tax revenues.

As reported in the Biloxi Sun Herald, Frierson stated that sports betting is a $95 billion industry annually for the United States. The activity is illegal in his state yet many residents play the odds. The industry would be able to bring in an additional $88 million or as much as $100 million if it were legalized as well as taxed on a state level. Frierson pointed out that the issue is controversial especially with the conservative Christian crowd and while he respects their position he also is putting everything out for consideration.

Seeing the activity allowed in the state is not a simple task. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is a federal law that prevents the majority of the states from taking part by not allowing authorization of sports betting. This law would have to be changed in Congress or struck down via the courts for the state to have the right to offer sports betting activities.

Helping New Jersey

As we mentioned earlier, New Jersey has been fighting the good fight for sports betting for many years now. The state actually passed legislation and has been in court battles on a federal level trying to see sports betting take shape. The state of Mississippi, along with others, have lent their support in the matter. Attorney Generals from five states, including Jim Hood of Mississippi, have shown their support for New Jersey and their case for sports betting legalization. An amicus brief was filed in efforts to show support on the matter.

The amicus brief filing was made for the states to be able to show that states’ rights need to be upheld to prohibit and allow what they would like, which would include sports betting. While this is the case, Mississippi, above the other states involved, would also like to get in on the action. Wisconsin, West Virginia, Louisiana and Arizona have all shown their support as well but have not talked about becoming invested in the industry as has Mississippi.

The state of Mississippi already offers casino gambling and would love to provide sports betting in the mix. Table games and slot machines are already on offer in such areas as Tunica and Biloxi. The state also has focused their efforts on other gaming options including daily fantasy sports. Mississippi is one of just eight states in the US that legalized DFS gaming this year. This was surprisingly done after Hood had provided a negative legal opinion on the matter.

Many states in the US have been looking at DFS gaming along with casino and poker options where no gaming is available. DFS has quickly become a popular option for gamblers and is still a hot point of contention in many states.

For now, it will be interesting to watch as Mississippi prepares for battle and what the outcome will be in regards to sports betting and the state.