Until recently the state of Mississippi has generally avoided the topic of online gaming. However, due to a downward trend in the brick and mortar casino market, the state now appears willing to study the online gaming industry. Reports indicate that revenues have been steadily declining in several regions. Since last month’s closure of Harrah’s casino in Tunica the state casinos are bringing in less money and has created a cloud over the industry as a whole. Prior to closing Harrah’s was a very popular gambling destination that attracted many players to the area. Unfortunately an increase in competition from two of Arkansas’ racetracks have also had a negative impact on the market so that alone was not enough for them to be able to keep their doors open. The casino’s closure cost the state gaming revenue and resulted in the loss of many jobs.
Last month, the Mississippi Gaming Commission published numbers demonstrating that in 22 of the past 24 months, state casinos have generated less gaming revenue when compared to the previous year. When comparing May 2014 to May 2013 there was a 10.6% drop in revenue statewide.
Mississippi Considers Online Gaming
Based on the early results of online gaming revenues being generated in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, Mississippi is turning an eye to online gaming. The state has commissioned a task force to conduct a study to show if and how online gaming could aid their struggling casino industry. The task force has been sanctioned by Richard Bennett, the Mississippi House Gaming Committee chairman. The team he’s assembled will be comprised of eight individual. They will be examining online gaming in the United States and evaluating the pros and cons of the current iGaming providers.
Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Allen Godfrey, has been assigned the role of chairman of this task force. State representative, Bobby Moak, has made efforts to introduce online gaming legislation in Mississippi for the past three years. But each time the bill is brought before the committee it is defeated. The piece of legislation proposed each year by Moak was the same. It involved regulating and licensing online gaming and taxing revenues generated. Licenses for online gaming would be awarded to companies that already hold state sanctioned gaming licenses for land-based casino operations.
The Future of Online Gaming in Mississippi
Moak believes that the legislation of online gaming will allow Mississippi’s land-based gaming industry to take control of their future and give the state the opportunity to regulate a facet of the industry that already existed, albeit illegally. With all of the current issues facing brick and mortar casinos Mississippi can’t afford to be left behind when it comes to online gaming. Only time will tell what will come of the study and whether or not it will provide the necessary motivation for state legislators to make a move and finally try to take their share of the United States online gambling market.