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Mississippi set to be one of the first states to add sports betting

United States Supreme Court Justices ruled Monday that states should be allowed to sponsor sports gambling. Mississippi is primed to be one of the first to join in on those bets. Source: WLBT United States Supreme Court Justices ruled Monday that states should be allowed to sponsor sports gambling. Mississippi is primed to be one of the first to join in on those bets. Source: WLBT
United States Supreme Court Justices ruled Monday that states should be allowed to sponsor sports gambling. Mississippi is primed to be one of the first to join in on those bets. Source: WLBT United States Supreme Court Justices ruled Monday that states should be allowed to sponsor sports gambling. Mississippi is primed to be one of the first to join in on those bets. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

United States Supreme Court Justices ruled Monday that states should be allowed to sponsor sports gambling. Mississippi is primed to be one of the first to join in on those bets. 

READ MORE: Lay your money down: Court says states can OK sports betting

You may be wondering how Mississippi has the jump start on laying the groundwork for sports betting. It's thanks in part to a 2017 bill that lawmakers say they thought was just about regulation of fantasy sports. They deleted part of the of law that banned betting on any games that occur outside casinos.

"What we did with the previous legislation wasn't intended to be directed to sports book or sports gaming," said Rep. Scott DeLano.

But word got around that the bill's language did open it up to sports betting if and only if the Supreme Court ever allowed it. One bill filed this session attempted to ban any type of sports betting besides fantasy sports. 

"When the case came before the Supreme court and we saw it on the horizon," explained Rep. Roun McNeal. "What I wanted to do is just kind of pump the brakes a little bit."

That legislation failed. Now, that sports betting has the green light, DeLano is looking forward to the opportunities it could bring the state.

"I think it could be a good opportunity for our gaming establishments in our state," said DeLano.

And because the Mississippi Gaming Commission has already started drafting the regulations, it won't be long.

"By the end of summer, first of football season," said Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey.

But the law will dictate where you can place those bets.

"The law is that it has to be played on the licensed gaming facility," noted Godfrey. "So, if you have to physically come in and place your bet then that's the way it's going to be. So, no, you won't be able to sit at home, get on the computer or get on your phone and place bets."

Not only is Mississippi ahead of the game, it's the only Southern state that's this far along in laying the ground work for sports betting.

"People love their sports and I think people would love to bet a little bit on their sports," said Godfrey. "I think we'll get a lot of people coming from the bordering, our sister states. They will come over. Just like we go there to buy lottery tickets, hopefully we'll get them to come here and place sports bets."

The Gaming Commission doesn't think sports betting will drive up gaming revenue to record numbers. But they do expect visitor numbers to go up.
Because of that, they think it has the potential to be a sales tax revenue boost.

Attorney General Jim Hood sent a statement in response to the Supreme Court's ruling.

“The United States Supreme Court has consistently ruled for state attorneys general on a series of states’ rights cases, curbing federal overreach. While I am very concerned about people losing money their families need, the Legislative leadership has already made sports betting in casinos legal. At least it should help us curb illegal sports betting through bookies and allow the state to collect taxes through the legal casinos. Mississippi is in desperate need of funding due to the Legislature’s failure to adequately fund the rebuilding of roads and bridges or increase education funding.”

Governor Phil Bryant's Communications Director Clay Chandler sent this statement from his office.

"Gov. Bryant recognizes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision as the law of the land. As with any revenue stream, the governor will make sure taxpayer dollars are used to their maximum benefit and properly accounted for."

Speaker Philip Gunn sent this statement.

“The Supreme Court has ruled. It is what it is.”

Here are answers to some common questions folks may have as the state moves towards allowing sports betting.

Will I be able to place bets online when the regulations are in place?
No. The Mississippi law that was amended was the Gaming Control Act. Therefore, it only applies to licensed gaming facilities. You'll have to physically go into a casino and place your bets. You can't make the bets at home from a phone or computer.

When will I be able to participate in sports betting in Mississippi?
The Mississippi Gaming Commission hopes to have regulations in place and have it all up and running by late summer or start of the football season.

Will other Southern states have sports betting?
Not yet. Mississippi is the only Southern state that has made changes to its law that allow for the groundwork to be laid on sports betting. 

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