Mississippi is one of the states where online sports betting is currently illegal. However, that could soon change. On November 6, 2018, voters in the state approved Proposition 26, which would amend the state’s constitution to legalize and regulate sports betting. If the amendment is approved by Mississippi’s legislature and is ratified by the state’s voters, it would effectively overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and the federal Wire Act. PASPA was passed by the United States Congress in 1994 to regulate sports gambling, and the Wire Act makes it illegal to use wire communication (i.e., phones) to facilitate sports gambling. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, keep reading.
Why Are Vast Numbers Of Americans Against The Federal Government Regulating Sports?
In a nutshell, the main reason why MS is in favor of legalizing sports betting is because the state feels that it can effectively regulate and control the practice. With proper legislation in place, the state feels that it can protect its citizens from unscrupulous sports operators who may try to take advantage of them. In addition to this, there is a growing sentiment that says the practice of sports betting should be left to the states to regulate. That way, organizers of the event can ensure that the money they take in is going to charity and not being misused by the betting operators.
What Does The Proposed Amendment Say About Sports Betting?
The proposed amendment to the state constitution would effectively legalize and regulate sports betting. It would allow for licensed sports betting operators to establish websites, make online wagers, and accept bets from residents of the state. Operators must obey all state laws regarding licensing, banking, and reporting. In addition, they must register with the state and obey all the regulations put in place by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
Proposition 26 would also prohibit sports betting on school and college campuses, stadiums, and events where alcohol is served. It would also regulate the type of bets that can be made (i.e., baseball, basketball, football, et cetera) and the payout percent that the operators can charge (i.e., 70%). Finally, it would allow for the establishment of an online portal through which people can access real-time betting information and place bets.
What Do The Mainstream Media And Experts Say About Proposition 26?
The mainstream media and expert pundits alike have praised Mississippi for introducing this type of legislation. In fact, the state’s approval rating has increased by 20 points since the beginning of the year, according to a recent poll from Rasmussen Reports. Support comes from across the political spectrum, with 70% of self-described liberals and 40% of conservatives supporting the amendment.
“Voters in MS approved the legalization of sports gambling. Well done!” tweeted Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic candidate for governor who is now campaigning for the amendment to pass.
“This is a big win for students, sports fans, and casino workers across the state,” said Representative David McNew, a Republican and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I hope the legislature moves quickly to adopt the full proposal and send it to the ballot for the people to vote on.”
Even the founder of Americans For Better Education weighed in, praising the state for “taking a step towards ensuring that all children, especially those from low-income families, have access to a high-quality education.” His organization focuses on improving public schools in America.
Those are some pretty big endorsements to have going into the legislature vote. It would be one thing if the amendment were to simply legalize what is currently illegal in Mississippi. However, it goes a step further, effectively regulating and controlling sports betting, which is what many people are praising it for.
When Will Mississippi Legalize Online Sports Betting?
Given all the hype, it’s probably fair to say that most people expect the legislature to legalize online sports betting in Mississippi right now. After all, the state has shown that it can put thought into action, and its citizens have spoken out in favor of the practice.
However, that doesn’t mean that the amendment will pass. In fact, there is still a glimmer of hope for those who want to keep the current laws on the books and prevent the practice of sports betting from expanding. Here are some of the reasons why:
- The proposed amendment has yet to be voted on by the full House of Representatives, which means it is still in the proposal stage. Technically, this is a rejection stage, and it prevents the bill from being passed into law. However, it can still be amended and re-approved. This is one of the many steps that the amendment must pass through before it is officially legalized.
- House Bill 1583 must still make it out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote. There is also an identical bill that will have to be considered in the Senate. In other words, there is still a chance that either one of these bills could be vetoed by the governor. If this happens, it would effectively prevent the practice of sports betting from being legalized. However, as long as these bills are in the proposal stage, it is very unlikely that they will be vetoed.
- The amendment does not yet offer any sort of effective enforcement mechanism. It simply says that sports betting is legal in the state, but it does not provide any sort of guidelines or regulations on how the practice should be carried out. If the state were to pass a law against sports betting, it would then be up to the courts to decide how these rules should be applied. In other words, until the legislature passes some sort of enforcement mechanism, the practice of sports betting will remain illegal in Mississippi.
- PASPA still exists, and it effectively prohibits sports betting in the state. However, it can be very difficult to prosecute someone who is operating legally under its umbrella. Even if the state were to try and charge a defendant under PASPA, it would face an uphill battle in court, as the legislation was passed in a bipartisan fashion and is therefore very hard to repeal. In addition, there is no way for the state to effectively monitor the conduct of those who are operating legally under PASPA. It would be better to regulate and control the practice rather than prosecute those who are operating within the law.
On the other hand, if these bills are not voted on by the end of the legislative session, it does not necessarily mean that the practice of sports betting will be legalized. It just means that the opportunity for an amending session has passed. This is why it is so important that these bills make their way through the committee process and are voted on by the end of the session. Otherwise, the state could still end up being at a standstill with regards to the practice of sports betting. And that is even if the governor does not veto the legislation.