What will Santa bring for 2018 in Mississippi gaming?
While a lot has happened with regard to the gaming industry in Mississippi in 2017, many questions arise with respect to 2018.
Is this the year for the lottery?
Lottery proponents for many years have introduced bills for a lottery in Mississippi, only to have such bills die in legislative committees. However, in 2016, the Mississippi House of Representatives actually voted in favor of a lottery measure on the floor of the House, and in 2017 the House voted to establish a lottery study committee. The House Lottery Study Committee has completed its work, and the Chairman says his committee will neither oppose nor recommend that Mississippi adopt a lottery. The Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association has stated that it will not support any type of lottery other than paper lottery tickets. There is some viable talk of amending any lottery proposal that reaches the floor of the House to include Video Lottery Terminals. That would clearly be an expansion of gaming and resistance is expected to such a move. Some voices remain to oppose a lottery and any additional form of gaming other than the current regulated casino industry and charitable bingo. However, a tighter than ever state budget just might be enough for legislators to swallow hard and vote for a lottery.
Will Mississippians be able to bet on sports (legally)?
In 2017, a Mississippi daily fantasy sports bill included an amendment that clarified a provision in the Mississippi Gaming Control Act that could open the door for sports betting in Mississippi. Many legislators later objected, claiming that they did not know that the bill included this subtle but important change. While the constitutionality of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is under consideration by the United States Supreme Court, Mississippi may be preparing behind the scenes for sports betting if the Court provides a ruling that could be construed as favorable to such wagering in Mississippi. Will state leadership go along? Would the NCAA or the professional sports leagues file litigation to stop sports betting in Mississippi?