Mississippi was the last state in the union to officially prohibit slavery, and it just may be the last state to legalize online gambling. The legislature of the conservative region recently decided against permitting bet placing online when the state has previously had a profitable tradition of gaming.
“I don’t know if there’s an appetite with the leadership, but I do think there’s support in the Legislature,” says state representative Richard Bennett of gaming in Mississippi. The state legalized the lottery in 1992 but little has been done to carry out legislation concerning mainstream raffling since then.
“We’re a state that’s going to stay back and watch,” adds Bennett.
He believes that Mississippi will catch on to the trend in the coming years after a few other states have been successful with legalizing online gambling. While lawmakers welcome gaming in traditional forms, few have grown comfortable with allowing online casinos to be hosted in their state.
The main objection is that online gambling cannot be regulated in the same manner that traditional gaming is supervised. It is much easier to enforce the rules when players are in one location and have regulations explained to them by a professional. The task of enforcement becomes complicated when individuals are making wagers from a variety of devices.
Who is going to hold an individual accountable if he violates a law when betting online? Is it even possible to do such a thing when a person is operating from their personal computer? How would those who are not state residents be regulated? Would they be held to the same standards? These are all questions that few legislators can soundly answer. As a result, Mississippi lawmakers have resolved to stay away from it for now.
While disappointing for some residents, it is no surprise that Mississippi is not a state entering the 21st century of gaming. Even though the casino groundwork and infrastructure is securely in place, the pace to accept new things is different than the rest of the US. After all, the Magnolia state has voted conservatively in just about every election on the books, with no signs of changing in the future. In fact, the region has a reputation of only voting for republican candidates during presidential elections, with Jimmy Carter being the only exception.
Even with all of the facts on the table, and with Mississippi’s recent decision not to move forward, Richard Bennett still believes that hope is on the horizon. “In Mississippi right now, it’s just too early for us to look at going to Internet gaming.” Bennett further explains that numerous experiments would need to be conducted within the state’s boundaries in order to get conservatives on-board.
With fewer than half of the state’s residents having access to the Internet or a computer, such studies are just not possible.
Not all regions in the deep South are opposed to expanding gaming opportunities, however. Alabama, which borders Mississippi, recently presented a bill that would legalize gambling in the state. Many believe that such a proposal if signed into law, could cost Mississippi thousands in tourism earnings as many come to the Hospitality state from Alabama every year to gamble.
Perhaps analysts are right, which is all the more reason for Mississippi legislators to give online gaming more consideration. John Lucas of the Hard Rock Casino certainly believes in the possibilities. “It’s going to get approved,” he explains. “It’s just a matter of when.”