Mississippi Online Gambling “Remains Unlikely” in Mind of State Gaming Director

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Allen Godfrey, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, started off the new year by throwing a bit of cold water on hopes that his state might consider regulating online gambling in 2014.

Godfrey recently told CEM that “it remains unlikely that Mississippi will copy other states that have legalized some form of Internet gaming.”

While Godfrey didn’t offer any direct reasons for his prediction, a lack of political will, a generally conservative voter base and Godfrey’s own stated desire to only support gambling expansion that improves “the overall quality of life for the state” are all probable factors.

Legislative action is on Mississippi’s menu for 2014

While Godfrey’s sentiments may accurately capture the lay of the land, that’s not stopping supporters of regulated online gambling in Mississippi from making a push in 2014.

State Rep. Bobby Moak (D-Bogue Chitto) plans to take a third swing at iGaming regulation in the session.

Moak made two previous attempts to steer an online gambling bill through the legislature, one in 2012 and one in 2013.

And State Rep. Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach) told reporters back in November that “hearings and discussions” regarding regulated online gambling will be a part of the 2014 session, adding that he “wants to be out in front” on iGaming.

But Bennett admitted that “it’s just too early right now” and that he doesn’t believe that “we’re going to have anything come out in the session.”

Outcome in New Jersey could disrupt status quo

Mississippi lawmakers have made it clear that they’re closely watching New Jersey’s first steps into regulated online gambling.

Exceptional numbers from New Jersey in the first few quarters could accelerate legislative momentum for bringing online poker and casino gambling to Mississippi. And industry pressure could build in concert.

Caesars and Boyd Gaming are the presumptive leaders in the NJ market, via WSOP.com and Borgata respectively. Both companies have staked no small part of their future on the expansion of regulated Internet gambling. And both have properties in Mississippi.

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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