Mississippi Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

When you mention gambling and Mississippi together, images of riverboat casinos instantly come to one’s mind. For much of its history, the Magnolia State has been one of the most conservative states in the South. Nowadays, Mississippi residents can quench their gambling thirst at numerous casinos, many of whom feature charity gaming and poker rooms. Apart from casinos, Mississippi natives can enjoy other legalized forms of gambling such as the state lottery and charity bingo.

Today, we’ll go over the Mississippi gambling industry, discussing the state’s most significant laws on this matter and tell you about the best places to go and gamble while in Mississippi.

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Gambling Laws in Mississippi — The Law Overview

Gambling in Mississippi existed even before the state was formed, when settlers were betting on horse races under Spanish rule. The Hospitality State is also the place where five-card poker originated. Mississippi residents were frequently engaged in various forms of gambling until 1950 when a religious group began protesting against the popular pastime. Consequently, the Kefauver Committee had to ban gambling, forcing many operators and gamblers alike to go underground.

The situation had changed again around the 1990s when the Mississippi Gaming Control Act (1990) and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (1988) were passed. Indian tribes were allowed to build and operate casinos on tribal land, while non-tribal casinos were permitted in the dockside.

Gambling in Mississippi is regulated by Mississippi Code 75-76: Mississippi Gaming Control Act, 87-1: Gambling & Futures Contracts, and 97-33: Gambling & Lotteries.

Below, we’ll mention the most significant excerpts from Mississippi statutes.

Mississippi Key Gambling Statutes

Unlike other states in the US, there are a lot of laws and clauses in Mississippi statutes, some of which are not quite clear. Betting is the keyword that describes gambling activities in Mississippi law books. What the lawmakers have done is that they made betting on any game (with the exception of dog fights) illegal, that is, unless it takes place in a legalized casino.

Here’s the main definition:

“SEC.97-33-1. Betting, gaming or wagering; exception from prohibition; penalty.

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 whatever, upon conviction thereof, he shall be fined in a sum not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); and, unless such fine and costs be immediately paid, shall be imprisoned for any period not more than ninety (90) days”.

It’s also forbidden under the Statutes to own gambling devices and display them in public, for example, card tables would fall under this law.

“97-33-7. Gambling devices defined; prohibition; pin ball machines; penalties; exceptions.

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person or persons, firm, copartnership, or corporation to have in possession, own, control, display, or operate any cane rack, knife rack, artful dodger, punch board, roll down, merchandise wheel, slot machine, pinball machine, or similar device or devices”.

If you win while playing an illegal game, then you must pay a fine based on the amount that you have won, provided you get caught by the authorities.

What Forms of Gambling Are Allowed?

Mississippi allows casino gambling, racebook, poker, and sports pool wagering according to the laws and regulations that comply with the Mississippi Gaming Control Act of 1990. There are numerous casinos offering a full range of games, including docked riverboat casinos and tribal casinos. However, these aren’t the only legal forms of gambling in the state.

Mississippi also permits charitable bingo and raffle games in accordance with Mississippi statutes. The State’s statutory code also includes provisions for fantasy sports regulators. Regulations governing each of these forms of gambling are found at Title 13 of the Mississippi Administrative Code.

In August 2018, the state passed “The Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law”, which led to the creation of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation and the establishment and operation of the state lottery.

As for sports betting, this activity is limited to water and land-based casinos that accept sports wagers. Gold Strike and Beau Rivage were the first casinos to accept sports wagers. Over 20 such properties nowadays offer sports betting in Mississippi.

Apart from the Mississippi Gambling Commission, there are other governmental authorities that regulate gambling in Mississippi. One such institution is the Mississippi Department of Revenue. Also, the Commission works with the local police forces to restrict illegal gambling activities.

Much like other States in the US, Mississippi is in a grey area when it comes to online gambling. Their criminal code doesn’t mention anything specific that would make online gambling illegal. On the other hand, lawmakers also didn’t address anything about computers, the Internet, mobile devices or smartphones.

Here’s a section 97-33-7 (1) that contains a definition of devices that could be used for illegal gambling:

‘“It shall be unlawful for any person or persons, firm, copartnership, or corporation to have in possession, own, control, display, or operate any cane rack, knife rack, artful dodger, punch board, roll down, merchandise wheel, slot machine, pinball machine, or similar device or devices”.

It’s a bit difficult to decipher this section, as it contains ridiculously obsolete terms. But the part talking about “similar device or devices” could theoretically be applied to a computer or a smartphone.

In the absence of a well-regulated iGaming industry, offshore operators continue offering their services to Mississippians. You could theoretically get arrested for gambling via the Internet, but it’s highly unlikely that something like this would happen for two reasons. First, we couldn’t find a single instance of the state arresting an online gambler. And second, the US lawmakers are more focused on going after illegal operators rather than arresting and prosecuting online gamblers.

Where to Gamble in Mississippi?

There are about 30 Mississippi casinos around the state offering a wide range of games, including sports betting. We’ve narrowed the list down to three potentially best candidates for serious gamblers.

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino

Located at 875 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, Beau Rivage is an elite upscale waterfront hotel featuring luxurious rooms, an outdoor pool overlooking the Gulf, a full-service spa, and plenty of other amenities. There’s also a first-class 24-hour casino that boasts a fantastic range of over 1,800 of the latest slots. The casino’s table game section has all the popular choices, like Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, and Craps, to name but a few.

Poker game aficionados can play their favorite game in the Beau Rivage’s bustling poker room and participate in numerous tournaments that are being held every month. And for the most elite players, there is a VIP floor that resembles those of Las Vegas — full-service bar, delicious wines, private restrooms and a cashier are just a few conveniences that await everyone who visits the ultra-luxurious High Limit Lounge.

Gold Strike Casino Resort

This lavish laid-back casino hotel is an excellent choice for travelers visiting Tunica who are looking for a place to lay their weary head. The spacious casino floor of this resort features a massive slots collection of over 2,400 slots — but the fun doesn’t stop there. Gold Strike table games come with some of the friendliest and most professional dealers in all of Mississippi.

If you’re looking for an exotic game, you can take a seat at one of the casino’s Mini-Baccarat tables. And if you’re more of an old-school player, take a spin at the roulette table or throw the dice for lucky seven in the craps pit. The casino runs all kinds of promotions that range from cash prizes to free points bonuses.

Island View Casino Resort

Gulfport, MS waterfront casino has the biggest casino floor in the State of Mississippi, totaling 126,000 square feet of gaming space. Regardless of whether you win or lose, Island View never disappoints. The table games section is fully equipped to cater to the needs of any gambler — it has every classic table game known to man, from blackjack, to roulette and pai gow poker. And if you play here frequently, you can become their VIP member and earn valuable perks. You can even purchase lottery scratch-off tickets in the North Casino Gift Shop.

FAQ

Does Mississippi have greyhound or horse racing?

There aren’t any greyhound or horse racing tracks physically located within Mississippi borders. However, pari-mutuel wagering is allowed at licensed casinos.

Who Oversees the Casinos in Mississippi?

The main organization responsible for monitoring the casinos in Mississippi is the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC).

Is Online Gambling Legal in Mississippi?

Internet gambling is considered illegal under the state law. However, it’s improbable that you’ll get arrested for placing online bets from Mississippi.

Can I Play Poker at any Location other than a Casino in Mississippi?

Unfortunately, you can’t. Mississippi law prohibits playing any gambling game at a location that doesn’t have a gambling license.

What Is the Minimum Gambling Legal Age in Mississippi?

It is 18 for charity gambling, and 21 for casino players.