House Bill 606, which passed by overwhelming vote in March, decreed that 13 experts across the state would be convened for the task force. The committee will study the intricacies and challenges of legalizing mobile-online sports betting in the state.
Under Hosemann’s direction, David Blount, chair of the Senate Gaming Committee, in August invited Rychlak, distinguished professor of law and Jamie L. Whitten Chair of Law and Government, to join.
While the economic benefits of legalizing mobile sports betting could be large, Rychlak cautioned against hasty implementation that could leave people at risk.
"One of the things I spoke to is when and if we go to an online-based betting that those protections that we have in place must remain so that we won’t put kids in jeopardy,” said Rychlak, who is also a faculty athletics representative at Ole Miss and co-author of "Gaming And Gambling Law: Cases, Materials And Problems” (Carolina Academic Press, 2021).
"You increase the risk exponentially of threats and bribes to athletes.”
Well over half the country – 34 States And Washington, D.C. – have legalized sports betting in some form. However, since the widespread implementation, several instances of Players And People In Athletics Support Roles Being Threatened And Harassed For Their Performances have been reported.
"When people bet on these things, they take it very personally,” Rychlak said. "They think they have a stake in it.
"I hope we realize when we’re talking about college students and college athletes, that we do everything we can to minimize the risks to students.”
The task force, which first met in September, has a deadline of Dec. 15, to prepare a final report, which will be made available to the public.
"The chairs have made it clear that they expect there to be a bill proposed this legislative session, so the question is what is it going to look like,” Rychlak said. "The end result is to have a piece of legislation that does not overlook important things.
"Having that legislation does not mean it will pass, but they want to have something to take forward that hasn’t overlooked important considerations.”
Mississippi allows only in-person sports betting and geofenced mobile-betting within casino grounds. Some casino operators fear that legalization of online sports betting could cut into their business models, while others see the expansion as an opportunity to draw in new customers.
Before drastic changes in committee, HB 606 was Written To Legalize Mobile-Online Sports Betting in the state. In 2022, four bills that would have legalized online sports betting in Mississippi Died In Committee. In 2019, Two Similar Bills Failed.
Much of the concern involves moral or religious opposition to gambling, Rychlak said. States that have legalized mobile sports betting Have Seen Increases In Reported Gambling Addiction, Particularly In Men Aged 18-35.