“Disposition: Dead.” Those are the words that no politician likes to see next to a bill they submit. But Mississippi State Rep. Bobby Moak (D) can start getting used to it.
Legalization of online gambling in the state has met the same fate this year as it did in 2012, with Moak’s proposals dying in the Gaming and the Ways and Means Committees on February 5th.
Submitting the same piece of legislation that failed last year certainly carried this inherent risk, but supporters were hopeful that changing economic realities would secure greater support for the bill this time around.
The new law would have included among other things a 5% tax on gross revenues as well as requiring land licenses before online ones could be issued. This latter point granted much needed support from the industry.
It appears, however, that the proposed regulation and taxation of an already existing phenomenon, as well as the support from the casino industry were insufficient to overcome strongly held objections from the Christian voter base, opposed to any sort of expansion of any gambling activity.
This and similar proposals in a number of other states follow federal clarification issued in 2011, stating that the only form of gambling that is illegal to be conducted on an interstate level under US gambling laws is sports betting. As the federal efforts to legislate the matter of Internet gambling have failed, the states are now left to maneuver on their own.
Nevada and Delaware became the first two states to explicitly legalize playing online poker in the US, with California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois and New Jersey proposals in progress.
Although the effort to legalize has failed this time, there are likely to be further efforts in the future as economic concerns over casino industry revenues and employment issues raise the matter again. Such concerns may eventually call into doubt the position of keeping Mississippi among those states where it is illegal to gamble in American internet casinos.