Mississippi Goes to war Over Sports Betting

Jake Cooper | 24 Jan 2018

Mississippi Goes to war Over Sports BettingWhether or not to legalize sports betting in the United States has been a thing of contention for as long as the mind cares to remember, with divided opinions over everything from the effect that it has on the integrity of sportsmanship to concerns over the cultivation of widespread gambling addiction.

The latest battleground for this particular fight is the state of Mississippi, where lawmakers are currently at odds over the potential legalization of sports betting within the state’s area of jurisdiction.  

Two bills are currently before parliament for revision: one seeks to completely prohibit the betting on any athletic event if the betting in question does not take place on the premises where the event is being hosted. 

The other bill isn’t quite as unforgiving. The aim of the bill is to institute proper tax policies to be instituted and implemented in all sports betting markets. 

The interesting part about the first-mentioned is that the wording of the bill technically does not include or prohibit markets like fantasy sports betting, which takes place daily. The wagering on fantasy sports event has been legal in Mississippi since March of 2017, when a relevant bill was passed to the effect.

Both bills will now be voted on by both the legislature and the main senate before a final decision can be taken and the necessary implementations made in the Constitution of Mississippi, including changes where deemed proper.

A Long-Time Coming

It all started back in 1992, when then senator and ex-basketball player Bill Bradley took it upon himself to have a go at sportsbetting, guns a’ blazing. Bradley contended that betting on sports grossly undermined the integrity of the games. If one were to be permitted to bet on sports outcomes, he argued, the general public would lose all confidence in the fairness of matches and that they were free of fixing and corruption.

Bradley also argued that betting on sports events would send the wrong message to youngsters; that sporting events were actually all about making money and not about healthy competition and sportsmanship. 

The issues were eventually brought before Parliament and it was asserted that Nevada would be the state to visit for anyone wanting to partake in wagering on sporting events. This effectively awarded a monopoly market to Nevada.

Since then, the legality of sports betting has been brought before Parliament a number of times and more and more pressure is being applied by various avenues for the upliftment of the complete ban that was initially imposed.