Mississippi Senate Press Secretary Arnold Lindsay, right, receives a resolution from a senator at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

by Michael Goldberg, Associated Press

Mobile sports betting will remain illegal in Mississippi after legislative negotiators failed to advance a final proposal Monday.

The House and Senate passed versions of the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act earlier in the state’s legislative session. The bill would have allowed Mississippi to join the 30 other states where mobile sports betting is legal. Sports wagering has been permitted in the state for years, but online betting has remained illegal amid fears the move could harm the bottom line of the state’s casinos.

To assuage the concerns of casinos and lawmakers who represent areas where gambling is big business, the bill would have required betting companies to contract with brick-and-mortar establishments.

Estimates show Mississippi could bring in over $25 million a year in tax revenue, said Republican Rep. Casey Eure from Harrison County, the bill’s prime sponsor. Legalization would also undercut the influence of illicit offshore sports betting platforms in Mississippi, which leads the nation in illegal online sports betting Google searches, according to data presented by lawmakers.

During legislative debates, some lawmakers raised concerns that gambling platforms would have no incentive to partner with smaller casinos, and most of the money would instead flow to the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s already bustling casinos.

A small group of negotiators had until Monday night to file a final proposal for consideration before the full Legislature. That deadline passed without a final product for lawmakers to consider.