Gambling in Mississippi: State in Top 5 for Addiction, First for Related Arrests | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Gambling in Mississippi: State in Top 5 for Addiction, First for Related Arrests

Mississippi ranked fifth in WalletHub's study of most gambling addicted states, due to the widespread legality of daily fantasy sports gaming and gambling-related arrests per capita. Photo courtesy Flickr/Lutmans

Mississippi ranked fifth in WalletHub's study of most gambling addicted states, due to the widespread legality of daily fantasy sports gaming and gambling-related arrests per capita. Photo courtesy Flickr/Lutmans

Mississippi sees the most gambling-related arrests and is in the top five states in the country for gambling addiction, a recent study from WalletHub found.

A gambling disorder is much like other addictions. The American Psychiatric Association classified it as an impulse-control disorder back in the 1980s, and now labels it an addictive disorder because it is similar to substance-related disorders, the APA's latest manual says.

"Research to date shows that pathological gamblers and drug addicts share many of the same genetic predispositions for impulsivity and reward seeking," an article in the Scientific American says. "Just as substance addicts require increasingly strong hits to get high, compulsive gamblers pursue ever riskier ventures. Likewise, both drug addicts and problem gamblers endure symptoms of withdrawal when separated from the chemical or thrill they desire."

Mississippi ranked No. 1 in widespread legality of daily fantasy sports leagues in WalletHub's study, too. The Legislature addressed the state's lack of regulations and rules, and revised the Fantasy Contest Act this past session to set guidelines for companies operating fantasy contests, such as fantasy sports leagues mainly run online.

The revisions to state law on fantasy contests included limits to the number of submissions a person can make to any certain fantasy league as well as requiring the operator to be transparent with the player about the rules, values of prizes and other rules before the game begins.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission will have direct oversight over fantasy contest operators in the state, and all operators will have to apply to the commission, get a license and be subject to audits.

Despite ranking so high for gambling addictions nationwide, Mississippi does not have a state lottery, an idea that both the governor and some lawmakers have pushed to bring in more revenue for the state. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, created a committee to study the feasibility of a state lottery this summer to see if it's even a good idea for the state.

"I don't think it's the golden egg everyone thinks that it is," Gunn told reporters in late March after the Legislature adjourned.

Email state reporter Arielle Dreher at arielle@jacksonfreepress.com and follow her on Twitter @arielle_amara.

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