Mississippi to Look Again at Online Poker Legislation

Posted on April 8th, 2014 by Andy Walker

Mississippi to Look Again at Online Poker LegislationA task force is being established to look again at the prospects for online poker in Mississippi after two previous attempts to pass legislation floundered.

Online poker players in the Magnolia State are hoping that the saying “third time lucky” will come true following the announcement that a task force is being established in order to gather data on how Internet gambling and sports betting are working other states.

Two previous attempts to introduce online poker legislation in Mississippi have both failed to pass the committee stage for lack of support; but now, with revenue from brick and mortar casinos in Mississippi continuing to fall, Allen Godfrey – Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission – has been asked to conduct an investigation into the viability of regulating online poker in Mississippi.

Godfrey to Discover Pros and Cons of Online Poker

According to a report in the Washington Post, Godfrey has been given a remit by State Rep. Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach) to look at the pros and cons of online poker coming to Mississippi sometime in the future based on the performance of the three States that have been regulated to date – Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

Bennett – who is Chairman of the House Gaming Committee – admitted last year that the chances of Mississippi legalizing online poker in 2014 are remote, and was keen to state that the establishment of a task force is not intended to endorse gambling or promote the concept that legislation will be introduced to regulate online gaming anytime soon.

Issues Include Geolocation, Problem Gambling and Underage Gambling

Brick and mortar casinos in Mississippi current contribute $263 million in tax revenue to the state budget, but this figure has been declining for the past five years and, in addition to gauging the revenue that online poker could bring to the Magnolia State, Godfrey wants to study how other states have addressed the issues of geolocation, problem gambling and underage gambling.

Godfrey is likely to find a wide range of data to reflect upon. New Jersey online gambling sites collectively generate more than $10 million per month, while revenue from online gambling in Nevada just manages to scrape past $800,000. Geolocation issues have been alleged to drive online poker players in regulated states overseas while the Sands Resort Casino in Bethlehem – owned by anti online poker campaigner Sheldon Adelson – was recently fined $56,000 for four incidents in which minors were served alcohol and allowed to gamble on the casino floor.

Task Force Scheduled to Meet Up in May

The eight-person task force is scheduled to conduct its first meeting at the Southern Gaming Conference in Biloxi next month. In addition to Allen Godfrey, the task force will include the former Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission Larry Gregory (now Director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association) and Dorothy Loggins from the Mississippi Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling along with delegates representing education, law, information technology, tourism and finance.

The task force has been asked to present their findings by the end of the year, which pretty much eliminates the chances for Mississippi online poker legislation in 2014, but fingers crossed it will be “third time lucky” for next year!

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