Initial regulations in the state allowed retail-only sports betting, which has resulted in disappointing revenue numbers – some legislators want to rectify that.
The state of Mississippi was at the forefront of legal sports betting in the United States. After the repeal of PASPA in May 2018, the southern state was the third to pass regulations allowing for bettors to make legal bets inside its borders. However, the legislation is restrictive – it only allows betting to take place in retail sportsbooks. Of course, there were many detractors to this conservative approach to licensing, but given that it was the early stages of regulating the market across the U.S., legislators in Mississippi took a "Wait and See" approach.
Well, they have waited, and they have seen the impact not having mobile options has on the bottom line, and several legislators have had enough.
Revenues are at stake, but Burnett isn't greedy
Of course, the argument about mobile sports betting comes down to money. With the current licensing arrangement in the state, Mississippi sportsbooks took in 370 Million in bets in 2019. By comparison, New Jersey, where 87% of all the wagers take place online, took over $500 Million in January 2020 alone. The good news for Mississippi operators is that he revenues on that handle amounted to 44 Million, meaning the hold percentage is much higher than the industry average. This suggests that the playing audience is a more casual gambler, which is something the state should be looking to grow as the market expands.
The tax rate for sports betting in Mississippi is set at 12%, which means that the government took in $5.3 Million for all of 2019. That is a small amount given how hopeful the state was that sports betting would add significant tax revenues to the bottom line.
How many sites is enough?
One issue that is bogging down the discussions about changing the current law is the number of digital licenses that should be allowed in the state. As it stands, there are 24 land-based licensed operators, and it would be hard to imagine that any of those operators would say no to offering mobile betting. However, having 24 mobile apps for sports betting will make the market very crowded, and this can lead to even more confusion for players. If a bill like Burnett's is passed, there will be a very competitive landscape for lucrative Mississippi players.
One thing that is for certain is that mobile betting is far and away the most popular channel for gamblers. With so many in-play and live betting options available these days, players need to access lines and odds quickly and having an account where they can have balances updated in real-time is also a necessity. Offering mobile channels is also a win for land-based properties who are looking to expand their footprint as they may attract new faces to their properties by integrating online and offline promotions and loyalty campaigns. While we aren't sure which of the newly proposed bills will be passed by the House and Senate in Mississippi, it is becoming a safer bet that players will be able to make wagers from their mobile devices before the end of 2020.