Sports Betting a First for Mississippi and First for Choctaws

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In May, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which until then had banned sports betting across the United States. After the High Court made its ruling, several states already began to legalize sports betting. The State of Mississippi has yet to legalize it. However, this is soon to change in an unexpected way.

Mississippi Choctaw Tribal Council Leading the Way

Mississippi has not been as quick to legalize sports betting as New Jersey or Delaware. However, the Choctaw Tribe has taken a keen interest in the matter. It announced its intentions to take full advantage of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Members of the Mississippi Choctaw Tribal Council recently met to discuss several key issues, including debating on whether to roll out sports betting services. A majority of the council members unanimously agreed to do so, and a unanimous vote kicked off plans to enforce the decision in all the casinos owned by the Choctaws.

Announcing the council’s decision, the chairperson reported all the casinos would kick off sports betting services simultaneously. The three casinos owned by the Choctaws are the Silver Star Hotel and Casino and Golden Moon Hotel and Casino in Philadelphia and the Bok Homa Casino in Heidelberg.

This announcement is big news. To start with, it was not expected that the Native American tribe would be the first to embrace the idea given its conservative nature. There are some states, such as California and Florida, that are concerned state-tribal agreements made in the past may stand in the way of legalizing sports betting. Secondly, the casinos owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are evidently smaller compared with other casinos in Mississippi – there are a total of 28 casinos all over the state. However, it’s expected that other casinos will soon follow suit and set up their own sports betting services.

Making the Best of a Lucrative Opportunity

Research conducted by the American Gaming Association (AGA) has revealed that more than $1.5 billion goes into placing illegal wagers on sports and other gambling every year in the United States. Chief Phyliss J. Anderson, the council’s leader, expressed her satisfaction with the decision, citing the benefits it would bring to the tribe’s casinos. Anderson was glad legalizing sports betting would give the casinos a better competitive edge over their competition. Most importantly, however, she was hopeful the earnings from the new venture would open up new revenue streams and improve the living standards of the Native American community.

However, the Mississippi Choctaws will not be the only beneficiaries of sports betting legalization. The state government also stands to earn a lot of money by levying taxes on sports betting agencies, which will be limited to casinos.

A Smooth Road to Sports Betting

Several states have already legalized sports betting. However, some states, such as California, may have to wait for at least two years to do so. Fortunately for Mississippi, legalizing sports betting will be incredibly easy because it will not take much involvement from the state government.

For starters, the Mississippi Gaming Commission does not have the authority to regulate casinos in Mississippi. This means casinos can set up sports gaming services at will. Additionally, the Choctaw Compact of 1994 states tribal casinos in Mississippi can provide sports betting services as long as sports wagers are allowed on nontribal lands under Mississippi’s state laws. Since the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on sports betting, this gives the required go-ahead to the Choctaws to offer these services.

The Mississippi Choctaw Tribal Council has cleared all the regulatory issues and filed all the necessary paperwork. However, it has not yet set a date for when sports betting services will be officially rolled out in its casinos.

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