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Breaking – Mississippi Introduces Online Gaming Bill

Feb.23, 2012 5:52:AM
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On Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Moak filed Mississippi House Bill 1373 also called the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2012. The bill is designed to all forms of online gambling and online poker as approved by the Mississippi Gambling Commission.

The bill specifically states that “the State of Mississippi finds that the state regulations of legal gaming in this state, and the provision of this Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2012, prescribe a lawful exemption to the UIGEA…”  They further state that any question regarding the state’s authority may have been from interpretations of other federal anti-gaming laws and that action was vacated by the US Department of Justice memo on the Wire Act dated December 23, 2011.

Entities wishing to conduct online gaming within Mississippi must be licensed by the Mississippi Gaming Commission and the MGC will also have the authority to setup a separate division that will have be responsible for the administration of internet wagering, award wagering permits, and enforcement of criminal activity conducted over the internet.

Permits will only be valid for one to five years as determined by the MGC and must be renewed upon expiration.  The law also establishes technological and internal control requirements for online gaming licensees.

Only players 21 and older will be permitted to gamble online in Mississippi.  Players must provide the following in order to play online:

  • Completion of a Internet Wagering Account Agreement
  • Proof of age and two forms of id
  • Physical address of principal resident of account holder
  • Email address of account holder
  • Password or other secured form of identification
  • Signing a “penalty of perjury” statement

Also, employees of a gaming licensee may not register for an account on the site.  For example, Harrahs employees would not be able to play on a site owned by Harrahs.  They can play on sites owned by other companies.

Players may make a deposit with an online site by the following methods:

  • Cash at the licensee location / casino
  • Check
  • Money Order
  • Debit or Credit Card
  • Promotional Credit / Loyal Programs / Bonuses / or Comps by the licensee
  • Other approved methods by the MGC

One note for infrequent players on Mississippi sites, should your account remain inactive for at least a year, your funds are forfeited to the online site with half going to the Mississippi Gaming Commission Fund.

In addition, the bill establishes penalties to those who try and manipulate the software, online poker site computers, or hinder the game from operating.  Players trying to manipulate the games will be fined up to $50,000 and other entities will be fined up to $200,000 per offense.  If an employee of a gaming licensee attempts to manipulate the games, they also face having their Mississippi gaming license revoked and face further action from the MGC.

The MGC and the state of Mississippi also stands to make a decent amount of money based on permits alone.  Those wishing to apply for a permit will pay a minimum of $200,0000 for the permit and the actual cost will based on cost of the initial investigation.  In addition, renewal permits will cost at least $100,000 each.  For new applicants, an upfront deposit of $100,000 is required with the application.

In addition to the fees for applying or renewing an application, permit holders will have to deposit $100,000 annually into the State General Fund and $100,000 annually into the Mississippi Gaming Commission Fund for combating criminal activity.

Mississippi is the latest in a growing number of states that have introduced internet gaming legislation or are at least discussing the issue.  The bill touts itself as a method of protecting vulnerable individuals and providing a way to “stop sending much-needed jobs and tax and fee revenue overseas to illegal operators.”

A copy of the bill can be found on the Mississippi Bill Status site.