Mississippi and West Virginia have each approved new sports betting regulations, putting both states on track to launch legal wagering ahead of the upcoming NFL season.
On Thursday, the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) approved final regulations governing sports betting at the state’s 28 brick-and-mortar gaming venues. By law, the regs will kick in 30 days from now, meaning local punters could be wagering on sports by late-July. MGM Resorts, which operates two casinos in the state, used its official Twitter feed to announce it will commence sports betting at those venues on July 21.
The regulations, an early draft of which first surfaced in May, allow for land-based wagering only, although mobile wagering will be permitted provided the bettor is physically present on casino property. Operators will pay 12% tax on their betting revenue.
As with the earlier draft, there is no ‘integrity fee’ or royalty payable to professional or college sports bodies. Mississippi will also allow punters to wager on Mississippi collegiate sports, unlike the new sports wagering rules in Delaware and New Jersey.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians aren’t governed by the state’s gaming rules, but local NBC affiliate WTVA quoted MGC exec director Allen Godfrey saying he expects the tribe’s three casinos will adhere “quite closely” to the regs established for the commercial casinos.
WEST VIRGINIA EMERGENCY
A little further north, the West Virginia Lottery approved its emergency betting regulations on Thursday. These regs will now be filed with the Secretary of State’s office before being sent to the state’s four public casinos and the private Greenbrier resort.
Assuming all goes well, the state could launch wagering sometime in August, but Lottery Commissioner Alan Larrick told WV News that a lot will depend on how quickly the casinos can get their acts together. While the goal is to launch before the NFL season, Larrick said that “we might not get there by the first kickoff, but we hope to be close.”
Unlike Mississippi, W. Virginia will allow online and mobile wagering, and each of the five gaming licensees will be permitted “no more than three individually branded online sports pool websites and accompanying mobile applications.” Interested ‘sports pool intermediaries’ must apply for management service provider licenses.
Licensees will pay 10% tax on their betting revenue, be it online or land-based, while betting license fees are set at $100k for a one-year initial term.
Operators will be allowed to use a certain amount or percentage of revenue for promotional play – the amount to be determined quarterly by the Lottery – but “excess” promotional play must be accounted for as taxable revenue. The Lottery will also vet all sports betting advertising in advance.
As in New Jersey, West Virginia will allow its betting licensees a 270-day window in which to operate ‘temporary’ sportsbooks while construction of their main ‘wagering lounge’ is underway. Licensees can also incorporate betting kiosks, subject to regulators approving both the technology and their locations.
It remains to be seen whether Gov. Jim Justice will continue to compel betting licensees to ante up an integrity fee of 0.25% of sports betting handle to the leagues, something he aggressively pushed for last month. While there’s no fee in the state’s betting legislation, it’s been suggested that such a fee could be imposed via purely commercial arrangements with the state’s gaming operators.