Industry Reports

Mississippi Tribal Casinos to Offer Betting on Sports and Horse Races

Mississippi will be the next state to offer legalized sports wagering after the Band of Choctaw Indians have voted to allow sports betting in its three casinos. It is still unclear when this type of gambling would be available but it is expected sooner than what state lawmakers have prepared for the other 28 casinos in Mississippi.

Following the May 14 SCOTUS decision to lift the federal ban on sports betting, states are quickly introducing amendments to their legislation to allow them to offer sports wagers. Mississippi lawmakers, however, have already taken steps to take advantage of the historic ruling and have left the decision to the Mississippi Gaming Commission. But there is no need to hurry, as the only federally recognized tribe in the state has already allowed sports wagering. On Tuesday, the Band of Choctaw Indians announced in a press release that it would soon launch a full-scale sports betting operation in Heidelbergโ€™s Bok Homa Casino and in the Pearl River Resort near Philadelphia, MS. The resort has two separate casinos, so if approved, sports betting would be available in all three gaming facilities.

According to the statement, the tribal council held a special meeting on May 31 where it unanimously approved amendments to the Choctaw Gaming Commission Regulations. In order to take advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month, council members added two new sections to Chapter 4 regarding the legalization and regulation of race books, pari-mutuel wagering, and sports pools. With those in place, the three tribal casinos would be the first facilities in Mississippi to offer betting on sports and horses. Both collegiate and professional sports would be available.

In addition, the tribal council introduced several more amendments that regulate eSports, skill-based games, fantasy contests, and new slots. No launch date is mentioned in the release but the Choctaw tribe says that its casinos would launch sports wagering โ€œat the right timeโ€.

Mississippi May Allow Sports Wagers across the State

State lawmakers passed legislation to allow sports betting during the regular 2017 session. The bill, a 21-page document, deals with sports betting and horse racing but it also includes regulations for mobile use. Initially, it regulated only daily fantasy sports but it was easily expanded to cover more betting options, including gambling on single sporting events.

According to the proposal, only existing gaming license holders would be permitted to open sportsbooks after receiving a special approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Punters would be able to place bets on professional and college sports, as well as on the Olympics. Of course, betting would be restricted to casinos, land or water-based ones, but given the fact that there are 28 licensed facilities across the state, sports and gambling fans would have a large choice.

The bill is currently being reviewed by the Mississippi Gaming Commission and can be approved as early as June 21. This means that casinos would be able to offer betting on sports from June 30 onward. State officials have already said that the new legislation is expected to take effect in late summer.