The president of the American Gaming Association (AGA) is of the opinion that sports betting could be exactly what the state of Mississippi needs to maintain a steady flow of tax money.
Recently, the IP Casino Resort Biloxi was visited by the AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” tour, courtesy of Geoff Freeman, the president of the association which serves as an advocate for the gaming entertainment industry. Freeman said that the state’s consumers could want sports betting and, “I’ve never been more optimistic about the prospects for legalized sports betting. Mississippi can benefit from that. The whole country can benefit from it,” according to the Sun Herald. He said that fantasy sports were the catalyst for conversations regarding sports betting nationwide and questioned the difference between the two, as well as the existence of antiquated models. Back in April, legislation, S 2541, which would regulate and legalize daily fantasy sports in Mississippi, was approved by both the House and Senate, and now sits on the desk of Governor Phil Bryant, who will either sign or veto the bill.
Sports betting has been studied by the AGA since November and has advocated for change. Currently, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which was passed in 1992, prohibits sports betting in all but a few states. According to a survey conducted by the AGA, 80 percent of the people who watched the Super Bowl want the law to change, and 65 percent are of the opinion that regulating sports betting will either not impact the outcome of games or strengthen the integrity of them, as reported by the news agency. According to Freeman, conversations by the owners of sports franchises and the leagues favoring the elimination of the act have been increasing.
The AGA president said that the law has failed miserably and that of the estimated $150 billion spent by Americans on sports betting every year, only three percent is done so legally. Freeman said he believes the best thing to do would be to repeal the antiquated law and leave sports betting up to the states. He said, “If they wish to offer it, tremendous. If they choose not to offer it, that’s OK, too. But let’s give them the decision to make and get this out of Washington,” per the news agency.
While opposition to gambling in some areas of the state has made lawmakers reluctant to make changes to the state’s casino laws, according to the executive director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, Larry Gregory, it could add nicely to the revenue provided by the state’s casinos for the last 25 years.
Currently, five states including California, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania have introduced bills related to legalizing and regulating sports betting.