Mississippi Gambling Laws


Mississippi, the state where gambling has been seriously limited for many years and decades, remains a hard nut to crack when it comes to passing legislation on gaming and gambling. Even if it abounds in a wide array of casinos and poker rooms, there are still some legal obstacles that keep the state away from gaming entertainment. For example, horse racing is not to be found in this US state, neither the lottery. How the gambling laws work in Mississippi and how they affect the industry is described below.

A Historical Overview

In the 18th century, lotteries were very much common in the southern states, but the aggressive lotteries accounted for an anti-gambling stand and laws prohibiting the industry. Casino boats were especially the hit in these areas as they also accounted for regular clientele. When the civil war broke out, the gambling industry was put to a halt for a time. After the war, the casino boats were not revived again in full glory, and later the prohibition era just deepened the alienation from gambling which resulted in a 100-year break. It was only in the 1990s that the river boat casinos were re-introduced based on the Gaming Controls Act which gave way to coastal regions to legally operate in the industry. Besides poker and other games found in the casino, one can also enjoy charitable bingo games, but yet the lottery was not restored.

List of Legalized Games in Mississippi

If you are up to gambling in Mississippi then you should know what is waiting for you and which gambling activities you can enjoy. We already mentioned that casino games are legal and one can enjoy all the games as in any other state, but yet, online casinos do not fall under this category as they are prohibited under the anti-gambling laws.

Concerning social poker games, they are not clearly defined by law, but yet people enjoy this form of entertainment without anyone complaining. As for online poker, one might get in trouble with the law as it is not approved yet. But a glimpse of hope remains especially because regulated online poker has been part of the debate in the State, so it might follow the example of other states and allow online poker as far as it seems safe.

Online poker has become one of the most popular forms as it is easy and available to everyone, but the Internet stays a wide area where you cannot always control if everything goes down as prescribed by law.

The article mentioned forbidden horse racing bets, but as a matter of fact, any kind of sports betting is banned in Mississippi, except for dog fights. Surprisingly, this very strange form of betting is allowed despite its contradiction to cruelty on animals. Mississippi is probably the last state one would expect to support dog fights.

Inter-state lottery is the only option for the state’s population and when it features a big jackpot, many Mississippians flock to the nearby states where they can buy a ticket. This problem could be easily solved if the authorities would grant any rights in the field of lottery, but so far, no provision includes the lottery. Bingo is not prohibited, on the other hand, and even individual events can also take place without any problems, as long as licensed.



Curious Provisions

Sometimes it can be very hard to interpret laws and to understand completely what is meant under them. For example, the Mississippi anti-gambling laws include a provision that prohibits ownership of gambling devices, which makes even owning a set of card illegal. Another peculiarity is for example when the police catch the winner in an illegal game, the fine to be paid is defined by the winnings.

A Quick Timeline Overview

Even if sport betting is banned today in Mississippi, in the 18th century, the state had even a racetrack that was established by the French who liked to bet on horse races. The 19th century saw the riverboat casino businesses flourishing all over the state. Yet, the first half of the 20th century saw a decline in gambling rights and pinball and slot machines were banned in the 1930s only to be reintroduced in 1993 along with table card games.

It took another sixty years to bring back boat casinos to life and the 1990 law even specified that residents have to give their approval to any sort of operation. In 1992, the Bingo Charity Act followed allowing operators to organize bingo events for charitable causes.

As for the past few years, there is some initiative to legalize online poker which many would welcome with joy, but the process is still not going smooth, especially as the main online poker advocate Moak passed away before the voting process on the bill on online poker legalization submitted in 2012. Mississippi is still waiting for a new bill to be initiated (and hopefully passed) which would account for online poker games.

Despite the modern-day way of life, Mississippi remains a conservative and traditional state that finds it hard to extend its boundaries on certain issues or embrace new reforms and law amendments.