Mississippi is a great example of the extremes of gambling laws in the United States.
The Magnolia State long had some of the strictest laws against gambling in the nation. But lawmakers have loosened the restrictions in recent years, allowing many types of betting at licensed casinos, including table games, sports wagering, card games like poker, and betting on horse and dog races. The state also has a lottery.
Online betting is allowed, though bets can only be placed from within the nearly dozen casinos spread around the state. That means horseplayers cannot participate in online betting offered by advance-deposit wagering (ADW) providers.
You must be 21 or older to place horse bets in Mississippi.
Mississippi Horse Betting Overview
Nor are there any live racing venues in the state.
That wasn’t always the case.
Horse racing was popular in Mississippi at the end of the 18th century when the future state was a Spanish territory.
The Fleetfield Race Track in Natchez was built in 1795 and became a popular gambling and recreational spot, with gambling houses appearing in Natchez’s Under-the-Hill historic district in the following years. Other racetracks sprung up, many of them built privately by plantation owners.
According to the Historic Natchez Foundation, the Mississippi Jockey Club was created in 1807 and operated the Pharsalia Track, one of the most famous tracks in the South before the Civil War.
After the war, however, new state laws prohibited virtually all forms of gambling, a ban that held for more than 100 years until the Legislature approved dockside gaming along the Mississippi River and coastal counties in 1990.
The state has not yet finished tinkering with its gambling laws. Bills on the docket in 2022 propose easing the restriction requiring online bets to be placed from casinos as well as other changes. That could open the door for ADW services in the state.
Fun fact about horse racing in Mississippi
Lexington (1850-75), the most successful thoroughbred sire of the 19th century, trained in Natchez in 1854 under John Benjamin Pryor at Adam Bingaman’s Fatherland Plantation before racing in New Orleans.
Popular horse racing events to bet on in Mississippi
- The Kentucky Derby
- Belmont Stakes
- Preakness Stakes
- Breeders’ Cup
- Royal Ascot
- Cheltenham Festival
- Travers Stakes
- Santa Anita Handicap
- Pacific Classic Stakes
- Haskell Invitational
- Dubai World Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
- Grand National
Online horse racing betting is prohibited in Mississippi. Currently, only retail sports betting options are common in Mississippi.
No, it does not operate in the state.
Off-track betting isn’t specific in the gambling act, so several land-based casinos legally offer off-track betting services to Mississippi.