A Look At Mississippi Gaming Regulations

Mississippi is yet another river state that has implemented riverboat gaming legislation. The state followed the structure of Iowa and Illinois to create their governing body. In addition to gambling on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, gaming is also permitted on Oxbow Lakes that border the river, in three Gulf Coast counties and in the Mississippi Sound. This all became effective as of April 1st, 1990.

The state of Mississippi permits all forms of gambling including charitable bingo. New games are subject to review and approval by the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Although all forms of gambling are legal, counties cannot automatically open casinos. They must file a notice of intent.

If no petition is signed within 30 days, the country Board of Supervisors must create a resolution approving legalized gambling within their county borders. On the other hand, if 20 percent or 1,500 registered voters of that county (whichever is less) file a petition against gaming in that area, an election must be held. This must occur within 60 days of the certified petition. The state gaming body then evaluates whether the site for the casino is too close to a residential area or church.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission comprises only three board members that serve four-year tiered terms without compensation. Commission members may only serve two terms with one member being a resident for at least five years. The Governor and the Senate work to appoint the commission members.

The Commission regulates, licenses and adopts new laws. An executive director serves full-time to administer legislature and makes recommendations to the Commission. There are many rules the Gaming Commission enforces including:

  • Procedures to apply for gaming licenses
  • Payment for background checks of applicants
  • Size of a gaming area
  • Credit and debt collection procedures by casinos
  • Acceptable games
  • Procedures for hearings

Gaming is only permitted by those that are at least 21 years old and on the grounds of a casino. Although local governments have little input into the issuance and gaming regulations, they can create zoning restrictions that isolate gaming to a specific area within a town, city or county.

The gambling tax structure in Mississippi is fairly standard. Those boarding a gaming vessel are charged $3.50 by the government. 60 percent goes to the state, 20 percent to the county and 20 percent to the city. Gaming establishments pay a 4 percent sliding tax on the first $50,000 in revenue, 6 percent on $84,000 and 8 percent on anything over $134,000. Local governments can impose a tax of up to 3.2 percent.

Mississippi gaming laws are similar to other boarding river states that permit land-based casinos as well as riverboat gaming. As the economy continues to decline along with the gaming industry, perhaps regulations may loosen to spark new business.

The Legalization Of Internet Gaming

Large U.S. casinos are seeing dollars signs with the potential to legalize Internet gambling but neighborhood casinos are seeing problems. Small, local casinos in Nevada comprise most of the gaming halls in the state of Nevada which has the world’s largest concentration of casinos. There is already enough competition amongst land-based casinos; adding legalized Internet gaming could be disastrous.

Why This Is An Issue

Local casinos make their money through convenience of reaching a small, localized market and building strong, lasting relationships with their customers. Adding online properties to the mix will result in the biggest brands acquiring the most customers thus phasing out smaller competitors. It’s a simple matter of economies of scale. Those that offer the largest service will continue to expand, grow and attract more customers.

Supporters Of Legalization

The primary supporters of the legalization of gambling include foreign-based gaming websites, celebrities, no-name poker players, a few U.S. casino companies and recently the American Gaming Association (AGA) who is lobbying for tough licensing requirements. A select few in Congress have argued that prohibition is ineffective and U.S.-based players are simply spending their money overseas which is continuing to hurt the American economy.

The Las Vegas Culinary Union supports the legalization of online poker. Additionally, gaming giant Harrah’s Entertainment supports online gaming. Harrah’s commissioned a study in 2009 that concluded the legalization of online gaming could triple the industry as opposed to hinder it. The study was based on the continued growth of Internet poker rooms; European growth and U.S. retail chains that have boosted sales following the launch of Internet stores.

In the past 10 years, it is proven those businesses that have not adopted the Internet as a medium of growth have died out and those supporters have shown vast growth and expansion. This is an excellent opportunity for older casinos to cater to the younger crowd using technology as its medium.

The Opposition

Few U.S. casinos have someone in Washington lobbying for legalization. 14 California tribes that own and operate major casinos are against the bill stating the tribal members will suffer because of extra competition. Additionally, the nation’s largest poker room, Commerce Casino, is against online wagering. The Nevada Resort Association has not yet taken a position on the matter. They represent large casinos at the state level.

The legalization of online gaming has been a long, heated debate. The mechanisms in place to stop problem gamblers or those underage have been minimal. On the other hand, through prohibition the U.S. is losing out money that is being pumped into foreign markets. The country is at crossroad and a firm decision must be made.

Mobile Lottery From Spin3

Spin3 is the mobile gaming brand of powerhouse casino software developer Microgaming. They recently introduced an interactive lottery system called LottoSpin. This software is available for online and mobile gamers. LottoSpin is powered by Microgaming and will be offered to players globally, even in the United States. In the U.S., the lottery will be provided on a state-by-state basis. The bundle will contain a variety of games and support for over 2,000 of the most popular mobile devices.

LottoSpin Features

Although there are other mobile lottery systems available, LottoSpin offers a few unique features to differentiate them from the competition. For instance, while other systems use text-based technology, LottoSpin will be based on an advanced graphics system. Also, the system features location-based transaction technology which prevents gamblers from purchasing lottery tickets in unapproved areas. User’s information is secured due to the system’s innovative SpinLoc technology.

Target Markets

The United States is the primary market for Spin3. Executives believe that the first area of mobile gaming to be regulated is state lotteries. The company has two large deals lined up to help with the release of this system. One is in the United States to target U.S. players and the other will launch globally. The clients have exact specifications for launch which Spin3 has customized to match.

Brief Background

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation was the first online casino run by the government in North America. It was hosted through the PlayNow website. Within a single day of launch, the site had to be shut down due to an online security violation. Spin3 has observed and learned from this security issue. They have implemented a system that is tremendously robust and secure to protect the confidentiality and personal information of their clients.

The issue with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation served as a reminder to Microgaming the importance of thorough testing, analysis and robustness prior to launching a major endeavor such as LottoSpin. Without this, they could be shut down as quickly as their predecessors.

Although mobile lottery has been unleashed to the consumer in the past, this is a new innovative twist on an old idea. With advanced graphics displays, top-notch security and innovative features, Spin3 will have the player returning for more. Microgaming is bringing a whole new product to the table that has a great chance of increasing their popularity and thus their bottom line.