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Mississippi To Study Online Gambling

Task Force To Look At Pros And Cons Of New Games

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Mississippi, home to a commercial casino market of more than $2 billion annually, will take a long hard look at the online gambling business, according to the Associated Press.

State Rep. Richard Bennett, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, has asked the state’s chief gaming regulator, Allen Godfrey, to head a task force that will look at the pros and cons of such a business coming to Mississippi sometime in the future.

The task force, which will not make a recommendation either way, will look at how online gambling has performed in other states. Just three have legalized and operational intrastate web betting industries — Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Nevada online poker sites bring in more than $800,000 per month in revenue, while New Jersey web gambling sites see more than $10 million, collectively. Both figures seem to be less than what was anticipated, and surely hoped for, by state officials and the industry itself.

According to the report, the task force will meet for the first time and report some of its findings when a gaming summit comes to the city of Biloxi in May.

Bennett admitted last year that the odds of Mississippi legalizing online gambling in 2014 are remote. A bill was introduced last year, but it died after less than a month on the table.

Mississippi has 30 commercial casinos, according to the most recent information provided by the American Gaming Association, the commercial casino industry’s top lobbying group on Capitol Hill. Casinos were legalized in the state in 1990, with the first one opening about two years later. The best year ever for casinos in Mississippi was 2007.

“For a small state we have done pretty well in the gaming industry,” State Rep. Bobby Moak, who has sponsored Internet gaming legislation in Mississippi, told Card Player in 2012.

“We have been viewed as somewhat of a leader because we are close to the Nevada [gaming] statutes and to some degree New Jersey. Small states like Mississippi that are really heavy in the industry need to get out in front on issues like this.”

Other states considering online gaming this year include Pennsylvania, California and New York. None are expected to legalize. California is considered to have the best chance.