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Mobile sports betting will remain illegal in Mississippi after legislation dies

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mobile sports betting will remain illegal in Mississippi after legislative negotiators failed to advance a final proposal Monday.

The House and Senate passed versions of the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act earlier in the state’s legislative session. The bill would have allowed Mississippi to join the 30 other states where mobile sports betting is legal. Sports wagering has been permitted in the state for years, but online betting has remained illegal amid fears the move could harm the bottom line of the state’s casinos.

To assuage the concerns of casinos and lawmakers who represent areas where gambling is big business, the bill would have required betting companies to contract with brick-and-mortar establishments.

Estimates show Mississippi could bring in over $25 million a year in tax revenue, said Republican Rep. Casey Eure of Saucier, the bill’s prime sponsor. Legalization would also undercut the influence of illicit offshore sports betting platforms in Mississippi, which leads the nation in illegal online sports betting Google searches, according to data presented by lawmakers.

During legislative debates, some lawmakers raised concerns that gambling platforms would have no incentive to partner with smaller casinos, and most of the money would instead flow to the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s already bustling casinos.

A small group of negotiators had until Monday night to file a final proposal for consideration before the full Legislature. That deadline passed without a final product for lawmakers to consider.

___ Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him at @mikergoldberg.

Michael Goldberg, The Associated Press

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