1700s to 1800s
Sports betting has been thriving in Mississippi for centuries going back as far as the 1700s. Residents used to place wagers on horse racing and cockfighting, among other sports. In fact, one of the very first horse racing tracks in Mississippi was constructed in Natchez around 1795 and was called Fleetfield Race track.
While placing wagers on sports at that time wasn’t exactly defined by the law, the popularity of sports betting activities in the Magnolia State continued to soar. However, when the Civil War broke out in the 1860s, the sports betting business took a beating. After things cooled down, it took sometime before things got back on track.
Even when the Mississippi Gaming Control Act was passed in 1990, to allow riverboat casinos to operate within the law, nothing touched on the specifics of sports betting. Come 1992, things got even worse when the PASPA was enacted. It was a law that deemed it illegal to bet on sports across the United States except for four states, which unfortunately did not include the Magnolia State.
While state representatives tried to push for the progression of casino gaming laws, none of the bills that were introduced ever touched on sports betting thanks to the PASPA. Somewhere along the road, however, sports enthusiasts took refuge in fantasy sports games, because it was not defined in the law. Fantasy sports betting was a grey area because technically, players weren’t actually betting on the sports. They bet against each other based on the current matches that were going on in the regular sports calendar. It was a remarkable loophole that locals took advantage of, but not for too long.
Come 2016, fantasy sports participants received a blow. It was a shaky period for daily fantasy sports players as the contests were declared illegal by the Attorney General, Jim Hood, in February. Fortunately, this was immediately challenged by SB2541, the Fantasy Contest Act, which sought out to legalize daily fantasy contests. The bill was introduced by Senator, Sean Tindell, to provide a framework of how the state would regulate the fantasy contests
Amendments that were to be included under the Fantasy Contest Act included details about the allocation of revenues generated from the proposed state lottery, as proposed by Tommy Reynolds, a House Representative.
Fast forward to March of 2017, the Daily Fantasy Sports Bill (HB967) was approved and instituted into law by Phil Bryant as Governor in Mississippi. This was after the Bill got 46 votes in favor of the Bill and a mere 6 votes rejecting it.
On May 14th in 2018, one of the most significant events in the gambling industry in the United States of America occurred. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was repealed after more than a decade of continuous objections from several states.
This marked the beginning of a new era of gambling. In Mississippi, the Choctaw Tribal Commission took the first step towards legalizing gambling by authorizing sports betting in all tribal casinos in Mississippi. This was possible because tribal casinos operated under separate regulations. Skill-based gaming, eSports, new gaming machine products, and fantasy sports were some of the other products that were included with these new regulations.
Not long after, the Gaming Commission of Mississippi voted to approve new sports betting regulations as well. The new regulations were scheduled to commence in July of that year. One of the standout highlights of the new regulations was the approval of betting on state collegiate events apart from professional states alone.