Legal Mississippi Poker & Bills
The Mississippi Gaming Commission does state that internet gambling or online poker is illegal. Bingo for charity is one of the few types of gambling legal in Mississippi. Many activities – like raffles, horse race betting, dog race betting, cockfights, gaming tables, and shooting matches. The state is generally very strict on gaming of most types.
However, in 1990, the legislature passed a bill during a special session called the Mississippi Gaming Control Act, which established the Mississippi Gaming Commission and allowed riverboat casinos that operate at a dock along the coast, though the voters in those coastal counties had to approve the measure.
There are also casinos that arose from the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed by Congress that allowed Native American tribes to negotiate compacts with their state governments to offer gambling on their tribal lands. Three tribes did negotiate those compacts, and there are three casinos that operate under that law. The two most well-known are operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
In total, there are nearly 40 casinos now operating in Mississippi, from the towns of Biloxi and Tunica to Vicksburg and Gulfport. The mission to turn gulf towns into premier gaming destinations was dubbed the “Mississippi Miracle” and brought much revenue to the state.
Latest Developments Regarding Online Poker in Mississippi
After states like New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware legalized and regulated online poker, many other states began to look at the issue. And one lawmaker did make repeated efforts to get something done. State Representative Bobby Moak introduced bills in 2012, 2013, and 2014, the last year of which he also had the support of House Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, who tried to host hearings on the matter. But their efforts were overridden by the state’s gambling authority.
In 2014, the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s executive director at the time, Allen Godfrey, said in an interview that it “remains unlikely that Mississippi will copy other states that have legalized some form of internet gaming.”
And Mississippi did go so far as to not only discuss daily fantasy sports online, but in 2017 the legislature passed a law to allow the games. However, online poker and other internet casino games were not a part of that discussion and may not be for another several years.
Mississippi Laws Pertinent to Online Poker
The Mississippi Code puts gambling and lotteries into Title 97 under the crimes label and in Chapter 33.
The very first section defines betting, gaming, and wagering as:
“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.”
Those crimes can be punished by fines of up to $500 and possible imprisonment for up to 90 days.
The illegal gambling section specifies internet sweepstakes cafes as illegal.
“It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to possess, own, control, display, operate or have a financial interest in an electronic video monitor that is offered of made available to a person to play or participate in a simulated gambling program in return for direct or indirect consideration, including consideration associated with a product, service or activity other than the simulated gambling program; the person who plays or participates in the simulated gambling program may become eligible to win, redeem or otherwise obtain a cash or cash-equivalent prize, whether or not the eligibility for or value of the prize is determined by or has any relationship to the outcome or play of the program.”
These definitions then apply to the internet sweepstakes law:
- Simulated gambling program means “any method intended to be used by a person playing, participating or interacting with an electronic video monitor that is offered by another person or entity.”
- Consideration associated with a product, service or activity other than the simulated gambling program means “money or other value collected for a product, service or activity that is offered in any direct or indirect relationship to playing or participating in the simulated gambling program. The term includes consideration paid for internet access or computer time, or a sweepstakes entry.”
- Electronic video monitor means “any unit, mechanism, computer, or other terminal, or device that is capable of displaying moving or still images.”
This statute seems to cover things that happen inside of internet cafes but not the cafes themselves. It also remains very unclear as to whether the law applies to games like online poker or other animated games, as there is no mention of table games, skill games, or what type of gaming is taking place.
Most importantly, however, the frequently asked questions section of the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s website specifically addresses the question, “Is internet gambling legal?”
The answer is no. It goes on to say,
“No. Internet gambling is illegal under state law. Online sites may advertise they are ‘legal’ and ‘licensed’ forms of gaming. They may be legal or licensed where the bets are received, but it is illegal to place bets from Mississippi with these businesses.”
Disclaimer: This is not written by an attorney and is not or should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for help interpreting these laws as they pertain to any given situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I play online poker from Mississippi?
Answer: The regulations of the state are very clear about Mississippi’s view of online gaming, whether that specifically includes online poker or not. There are sites that cater to Mississippi residents, and we highly recommend the ones we list on this page, but the decision to play must be up to each individual as they interpret the laws.
Question: Am I in danger of arrest or prosecution for playing online?
Answer: It is not likely that law enforcement officials will find online poker players and make the effort to prosecute them. The state could make the decision to go after the online poker operators if it chose to crack down on the activities, but there is no evidence that this is going to happen in the near future.
Question: What will happen if a poker site stops offering poker to Mississippi?
Answer: The reputable sites listed here have done this in a few select states, and the operators give plenty of notice to the players that they are leaving that state. Players are given ample time to withdraw or transfer funds to another site.
Mississippi Gaming Resources