Mississippi proposes rules to govern legal sports betting

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s sprint toward legalized sports betting has begun.

The state Gaming Commission on Thursday proposed rules to govern sports books at Mississippi’s 28 licensed casinos.

The commission could vote on the rules at its next scheduled meeting on June 21. That means casinos could start taking bets 30 days later in late July, well before the start of football season.

Although most lawmakers said they didn’t realize it at the time, Mississippi changed its law in 2017 to allow sports betting as part of a bill legalizing and regulating fantasy sports. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal law that barred gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states, clearing the way for Mississippi casinos to move forward.

Unlike in some other states, Mississippi’s betting would be confined to casinos, although the rules say bets could be made on mobile devices inside a casino.

Under the proposed rules, casinos would pay state and local taxes worth 12 percent of the wagers minus the payouts. The proposed rules don’t include an integrity fee that some sports leagues have proposed casinos pay, to help cover the costs of policing betting.

Mississippi casinos could take bets on any pro, college or Olympic sport, or any other proposition approved by regulators except political elections, but the commission will be able to veto types of wagers “contrary to the public policies of the state.”

Casinos couldn’t take bets from coaches or participants, must report suspicious bets over $5,000, and can’t offer special bets or special odds to a single patron. Sports books are supposed to get detailed information on anyone betting or winning more than $10,000. Sports books aren’t banned from taking bets placed on behalf of others.

Mississippi’s casinos, which boomed in the 1990s, have struggled with competition as gambling has become more common nationwide. Casinos hope sports betting could give Mississippi gambling halls a competitive edge over those in neighboring states, at least for now. Betting itself is unlikely to contribute a lot of revenue, but casinos hope it will attract customers who will spend money on hotel rooms, restaurants and other gambling.

The public has 25 days to make comments, which can be emailed to agodfrey@mgc.state.ms.us.