Mississippi Representative Chuck Espy introduced Bill HB806 earlier this week in preparation for possible legalization of sports betting in his state. However, this depends entirely on whether or not New Jersey’s court battles to bypass the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is successful or not.
The past few years has seen New Jersey locked in legal battles with the Department of Justice and the national sports leagues as it endeavors to get around the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which restricts sports betting to only four US states.
Rep. Richard Bennett, the chairman of the state House Gaming Committee, said in an interview with the Sun-Herald newspaper on Monday that the immediate possibilities were remote for both online gambling and sports betting.
Last year Rep. Bennett assembled the Internet Gaming and Sports Betting Task Force which was led by Allen Godfrey, a Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director, asking for a study of the legal, financial and technical considerations of betting on sports and Internet gambling. The study was requested due to Mississippi’s declining land casino revenues over the past two years which was mainly due to competition from other states.
The Sun-Herald also quoted Bennett as saying that sports betting would definitely help the industry in Mississippi but that he noted that it was a state that was going to “sit back and watch” as the New Jersey litigation on PASPA progressed, and warned that Internet gambling in New Jersey generated only 10% of what it had predicted. Bennett also said that it is just too early for them to look at going to Internet gaming in Mississippi right now and that it would have to be conducted strictly within state boundaries as half the people in Mississippi do not have a computer or Internet access.