(Photo from WOAY)

State Senator Philip Moran (R) announced today that he has introduced legislation to allow for online sports wagering in the state of Mississippi. SB 2732 would make it possible for Mississippians to securely place bets on their phone or computer with a percentage of operator profits flowing to the state.

“Every day millions of Americans in 15 states have access to state-of-the-art mobile sportsbooks, allowing them to place bets on their favorite teams and leagues at home while fostering much needed tax revenue. Unfortunately, Mississippi law does not authorize online sports betting, but this bill seeks to change that” said Senator Moran in a release. “Mississippi has been leaving money on the table by not authorizing online sports wagering, and it is time to modernize Mississippi’s gambling offerings and do what’s best for Mississippians.”

Currently, sports betting is legal at the state’s commercial casinos, but not online. Illegal and offshore sports betting web sites are available across the U.S. online, but offer neither state tax revenue nor consumer safeguards such as responsible gaming tools and secure payments.

Tennessee launched online sports betting in November 2020, and in its first month garnered over $131 million in bets resulting in $2.3 million in tax revenue for the state, according to Moran. Mississippi retail sports betting tax revenue decreased in November compared to both October 2020 and November 2019.

Another neighboring state, Louisiana, saw its voters overwhelmingly approve sports betting in November as 55 of the 64 parishes accounting for more than 95 percent of the state’s population said yes to allowing sports wagering in their community. The Louisiana Legislature is expected to introduce online sports wagering legislation when the state legislature convenes in April.

During a hearing in the Mississippi Senate Gaming Committee in December, Allen Godfrey, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, called Mississippi’s $370 million 2019 sports wagering handle a “far cry” from New Jersey’s $850 million in online and retail sports wagering handle reported for September 2020 alone.

Senator Moran represents District 46 located in portions of Hancock and Harrison counties on the Coast.