Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Mississippi
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Mississippi?
Mississippi doesn’t have any online poker regulation yet, but they did expand gaming recently. It was an interesting mixture of catching up with the times and leading the charge. In 2018, Mississippi became one of the last states to start a lottery, but it was also one of the first states to approve sports betting. Sports betting started on Aug. 1, 2018 in Mississippi and is limited to casinos. There are now more than 23 places to sports bet in Mississippi but you need to be 21 or older to play.
Interestingly enough, Mississippi almost led the charge for online gaming. Back when New Jersey and Nevada were starting to legalize online poker, the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2012 was making its way through the state legislature. It didn’t make it very far though and a daily fantasy sports bill got killed in 2016 too. But now things are expanding and there’s a chance online poker could be next.
If any bill pops up we’ll be the first to tell you.
Online Poker and the Law in Mississippi
Mississippi has an interesting history with gambling. It’s strict and conservative on one front, but it’s also been a pioneer at some points. In the 90s Mississippi became a riverboat gambling hotspot. The state has a few different forms of gambling. All gaming is covered in the state statute. Section 97-33-1 states::
“If any person shall encourage, promote or play at any game, play or amusement, other than a fight or fighting match between dogs, for money or other valuable thing, or shall wager or bet, promote or encourage the wagering or betting of any money or other valuable things, upon any game, play, amusement, cockfight, Indian ball play, or duel, other than a fight or fighting match between dogs, or upon the result of any election, event or contingency.”
The dog fight part is interesting, but it is prohibited by the Mississippi criminal code. The only gambling allowed is in casinos. Everything else is prohibited under state law. The law is weirdly specific, but also vague. There are specifics like cockfights and Indian play ball, but says “any game.” That’s prefaced by “for money or other valuable thing, or shall wager or bet.”
This includes poker for money. Since poker is a game that you play for money, it’s considered gambling under Mississippi law. It’s interesting because most states use the word “chance” to identify gambling games. Here, any game for money is illegal, regardless of it being a skill game.
Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in Mississippi
Nope, not even if you’re in a riverboat casino. PokerStars hasn’t been available in Mississippi since 2011. Poker players in Mississippi do have a few alternatives. While PokerStars only accepts US players from two states, several other sites like Ignition Poker and Americas Cardroom take players from all 50 states.
So if you’re a Mississippi poker player looking for good PokerStars alternatives, we recommend you start there. If you want to read a bit more about those sites and others, check out our reviews below:
Legal Gambling in Mississippi?
Commercial and Indian Casinos
Mississippi legalized commercial casinos in 1990. The first casino opening in 1992. Currently, there are 31 casinos, 28 commercial and 3 Indian. They employ 37,000 people. In 2014 these casinos generated $935 million in tax revenue and had a $4.1 billion economic impact. The tax revenue goes to housing, education, transportation, health care services, youth counseling programs, and local public safety programs.
Bingo is the main form of charitable gaming allowed in Mississippi. An organization must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit and apply for a license before offering bingo as a fundraising activity. In order to receive a license the organization must complete and submit their application to the charitable gaming division.
The charitable gaming division is to issue and renew annual state licenses, required by law, for organizations that conduct bingo games, and for manufacturers, distributors or operators of supplies or equipment for games.
Sports Betting and Lottery
These are the latest expansions to gaming in Mississippi. The state passed sports betting and lottery legislation in 2018. It was an interesting combo, since it was one of the first states to pass sports betting, but one of the last to pass the lottery. A bill to expand sports betting and allow online sports betting was introduced in 2019, but failed to make it through the legislature. The two forms of gambling now bring in hundreds of millions in revenue every year. The south is big on sports and it shows. We’ll see if that expands to poker.
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