Mississippi Bill Aims for Online Sports Betting as Nebraska Senator Paves Way for Racetrack Casino Gambling

Two states eye gambling expansion

Legislators in Mississippi and Nebraska have introduced new bills with the aim of advancing the states’ gambling markets.

Senate Bill 2396, proposed by Senator Scott DeLane this week, sets out terms for online and mobile wagering on sports betting in Mississippi. The new legislation would permit Magnolia State operators to run one online sports betting platform per license. The bill does not stipulate the number of licenses to be awarded.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Senator Tom Briese introduced LB 560 on Tuesday. The legislation would permit racetracks to open casinos with full services, including sportsbooks. While it allows for online and mobile wagering, the bill requires bettors to place wagers while present at land-based properties.

An online future for Mississippi

Current Mississippi law permits mobile betting at any of the state’s 26 casinos, of which 13 are on land and 13 are on riverboats. Over the course of 2019, Magnolia State legislators considered three bills to expand mobile betting beyond these casinos. However, no legislation passed.

players to wager on sports via internet platforms authorized by the Mississippi Gaming Commission

SB 2396, put forward by DeLane on Monday, aims to amend section 97-33-1 of the Mississippi Code of 1972. It would enable players to wager on sports via internet platforms authorized by the Mississippi Gaming Commission. In terms of operator costs, the legislation does not set out the price of licenses or any tax terms. The bill says it shall take effect from and after July 1, 2021.

Similar legislation proved unsuccessful in the past, but the state struggled with declining gaming revenue last year. Over 2020, the state’s land-based casino revenue was down 23% year-on-year. In part, this was due to intermittent periods of closures. Casinos shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Authorities green-lighted gambling property reopenings in May, but Hurricanes Sally and Zeta caused further closures in both September and October.

The will of Nebraskan voters

In November last year, Nebraska voters approved three initiatives. These paved the way for casino gambling to take place at the state’s six licensed horse racetracks. The vote occurred despite the best efforts of Secretary of State Bov Evnen, who initially refused to include the initiatives in the November 2020 general election ballot.

casino gambling to take place at the state’s six licensed horse racetracks

Proposed on Tuesday, Senator Tom Briese’s legislation sets out the parameters for state lawmakers to implement these initiatives, which would enable racetrack casino and sports wagering. In doing so, LB560 also establishes a number of customer protections, including a ban on credit card gambling. Accompanying bill LB 561 contains information to assist the Nebraska Racing and Gambling Commission in regulating the new market.

Briese said he proposed the bill to carry out the will of Nebraskan voters, despite previously opposing such legislation. “I believe this is legislation that respects the will of an overwhelming majority of the people, while leaving in place reasonable restrictions to prevent some of the abuses we see in other states,” he explained.

Washington lawmakers also back legislation

Washington State law only currently permits sports wagering at tribal casinos. Despite legalizing sports betting in March last year, those tribal sportsbooks are yet to go live in light of ongoing compact negotiations. However, legislation proposed by two lawmakers aims to expand the gambling market before it has even launched.

Senator Curtis King and majority floor leader Senator Marko Liias introduced SB 5215 to the Senate Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs Committee last Wednesday. The measure would legalize mobile and retail sports betting at the state’s card rooms and racetracks. After backing a similar commercial sports betting bill last year, Maverick Gaming CEO Eric Persson is once again spearheading support for the new bill.

According to the Seattle Times, Persson worked out that a commercial sports wagering market in Washington could generate $50m in annual tax revenue. In regard to the new bill, Persson said: “Some people are going to be supportive and some people aren’t, but at the end of the day the product that we’re trying to offer the state is what’s desired by constituents.”

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