Exclusive: Mississippi Representative pessimistic over latest online gaming bill

Exclusive: Mississippi Representative pessimistic over latest online gaming bill

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mississippi State Representative Bobby Moak has told TotallyGaming.com that despite having introduced a new online gaming bill in the US state in the hope of legalising internet gambling, he does not expect the legislation to pass this year. 

Introduced earlier this week, the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gambling Act of 2015 is the latest bill to have been put forward by Moak in an effort to legalise online gaming in the state. Moak has tried and failed to introduce an online gaming bill in each of the last three years.

Although Moak told TotallyGaming.com that he does not hold much hope of it passing this year, he does believe that a regulated online gaming service in Mississippi would offer great financial benefits to the state.

“I don't think it has much chance this year,” Moak said. “It is an election year here and certainly the leadership in this House does not want to address gaming issues and put their membership to a vote.

“There was supposed to be a report from the committee published last fall, partly in answer to the legislation filed last year, but that never materialised. Maybe sooner rather than later but not until after all the deadlines for bills to be introduced has passed for this session of the legislature. It’s just politics.”

Unlike some other states that have focused online gaming legislation on poker, Moak’s bill would legalise various forms of internet gambling. 

“Just because the other years have not been fruitful is no reason the legislation should not be introduced again,” Moak said. “Mississippi has been a leader in gaming and without the introduction of new and innovative legislation in the area, I believe we somehow fall from that track. I don't want that to happen.

“The benefits to our state are first to the treasury. These activities are going on now and we need to collect the tax.

“Next, this activity needs to be regulated. Without that component as you know everyone is able to hop on board right now including kids and those that don't need to gamble.

“Finally, gaming houses in Mississippi need all the tools available to them that other jurisdictions have. When Mississippi does not allow her gaming facilities to use what other states have, it is a detriment to the bottom line of the facility and our state.”

Mississippi is not the only state to have introduced an online gaming bill this week, with Washington State Representative Sherry Appleton having also put forward proposed legislation. Washington’s House Bill 1114 only covers online poker, rather than the wider legalisation proposed by the Mississippi bill.

Meanwhile, another online gaming bill introduced last month in California could be amended under proposed changes put forward by Assemblyman Mike Gatto.

Gatto, who is the driving force behind the AB 9 legislation, has proposed cutting a requirement for players to visit a land-based gambling facility to open an online poker account. Under the amendment, Gatto wants this to be changed to an optional choice for players.

In addition, Gatto is considering strengthening sanctions against those operators that offer unauthorised online poker services.

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