Mississippi and West Virginia fast-track sports betting

By Islam Soliman

Mississippi and West Virginia have approved sports betting regulations, with both states expected to accept bets before the start of the football season in autumn.

Mississippi residents will be able to gamble on sports at casinos by the end of July, following a unanimous decision by the state’s gaming commission on Thursday. The Mississippi Gaming Commission accepted the new rules without any debate, Executive Director Allen Godfrey said.

Casinos and sports books can open up when the legislation takes full effect in 30 days, clearing the way for bettors to place bets on professional, college, and amateur sporting events.  Casinos will pay 12% state and local taxes on all wagers minus payouts.

Some betting operators may need to be licensed by the commission first, so bets can be placed at their casinos. A number of gambling providers are already filling out application forms for their licenses.  Equipment used by prospective sports betting service providers must be approved by the state.

The Commission also requires casinos to report suspicious bets of more than $5,000 and gather information on those who win more than $10,000.

Unlike some other states, bettors will actually have to go casinos in Mississippi to place their sport bets. Bets from coaches or athletes will be forbidden, however.  

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Read more:

New York fails to pass sports betting law

Rhode Island Approves Sports Betting Bill

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Andy Levinson, the senior vice president of tournament administration for golf s PGA tour, warned the new regulations "put sports fans, sports bettors, athletes and professional sport themselves at risk". But those within the gambling industry are optimistic that Mississippi's new law could help improve tourism and generate more internal revenue for the state.

Mississippi's decision comes after the US Supreme Court in May repealed  the Professional and Amateur Sports Provision Act 1992 (PASPA). Deleware, New Jersey and Rhode Island have also moved quickly to accept bets.

In West Virginia, the Lottery Commission approved 20 pages of regulations in an emergency meeting on Thursday. The state hopes to offer sports betting in time for the football season, Lottery Commissioner Alan Larrick said.

Eligible casinos include West Virginia's Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort near Charleston and the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.

Each of the five gaming licenses will also be allowed “no more than three individually branded online sports pool websites and accompanying mobile applications.”

Casinos can apply for a sports book licence for $100,000. West Virginia’s tax rate is 10%. By the fifth year of operation, West Virginia hopes sports betting will generate $235 million in gross wagering revenues.

Although New York failed to pass a sports betting law before the legislative session ended, the state’s four casinos could operate sports betting under a 2013 law should gaming regulators allow it.

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