Mississippi Will Still Miss Mobile Sports Betting in 2022

Matthew Murrell #11 of the Mississippi Rebels. James Gilbert/Getty Images/AFP

There’s plenty of push for mobile sports betting to become legalized in Mississippi. But disappointment continues.


To start out with some context: the signing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992 established a federal ban on sports gambling. In 2017, with the onset of fantasy sports, things began to get murky. This murkiness is, in a way, a theme in the legal development of sports betting in Mississippi and it promises hope for future bettors.

What I mean by murkiness is that legal developments mean one thing but actually entail a lot more.
To be specific, the political defenders in Mississippi of fantasy sports gaming did not have sports betting in mind.

When they enacted House Bill 967, they did not write sports betting and, if we’re to believe the likes of Senator Sean Tindell, did not even have sports betting in mind. This 2017 bill was, at least on the surface, simply intended to add oversight and in other ways to solidify a law that legalized online fantasy sports contests in 2016.

Nevertheless, Magnolia State gaming officials credit this 2017 bill with helping to advance the legalization of sports betting in Mississippi. The murkiness is located along the border between fantasy sports contests and sports betting.

Legalizing the former created a kind of trojan horse for the latter because of the murky boundary between them. Simply stated, fantasy football led to sports betting in Mississippi. As I hope to articulate, sports betting will surely lead to online sports betting in the same state.

Quick but Then Slow

The legal development of gambling in the Magnolia State started out quickly but has since struggled to progress.  

In 2018, the Supreme Court made the fantastic decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that was signed in 1992. Mississippi was very quick to take advantage of this opportunity for states to legally regulate their own sports betting.

The Magnolia State was one of the fastest states to permit sports betting. BetMGM was the first sportsbook to benefit by going live in August of 2018 in Mississippi before any other sportsbook did so.

Sports betting in Mississippi is available in an impressive volume of retail locations. Besides BetMGM, Caesars, FanDuel, and other sportsbooks operate in the state. Since this explosion a few years ago, though, sports betting has been slow to develop on the legal front.

The Push For Mobile Betting 

Mobile betting does already exist in a sense — and this is where the aforementioned murkiness comes into play. If mobile betting already exists, then surely it’s only a matter of time for mobile betting to become legal in the state. The problem is that the retail, on-land locations enjoy decisive power and do not want online sports betting to happen yet.

In order to place a mobile wager in Mississippi, one has to visit a retail location in the state. The retail-only option has yielded a significant reduction in revenue. This problem will likely be exacerbated by the introduction of live sports betting in neighboring Louisiana.

It seems that it would be wise for these retail locations to permit online sports betting in order to increase their revenue. Bills intended to legalize online sports betting tried to offer various concessions to land-based operators. For example, bettors would have had to register their online accounts in person.

Despite these unique measures, the prospect for the legalization of sports betting wasn’t even brought to a vote. Thus, Mississippi-based bettors looking to place wagers online in their state need to exercise more patience.