Mississippi Becomes Fourth State to Launch Legal Sports Betting

Mississippi Becomes Fourth State to Launch Legal Sports Betting

On August 1st, Mississippi officially launched its legal sports betting market, with the first bets wagered taking place exactly twenty-six years after the state’s first casino, the Isle of Capri in Biloxi, opened for business back in 1992. In so doing, Mississippi now becomes the USA’s fourth state to offer the full range of legal sports betting options, following in the footsteps of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

Two MGM Resorts owned casinos, the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica and Beau Rivage in Biloxi, simultaneously started accepting their sports bets at noon local time, and commenting upon the historic occasion, company CEO Jim Murren stated:

“MGM Resorts is proud to once again assume the leadership position in the hospitality industry. Sports wagering is a rapidly growing, exciting new entertainment opportunity for our company. We were proud to take the first sports wager in Atlantic City in June and today the first legal sports wagers in two locations in Mississippi.”

House Bill 967

Mississippi legislators optimistically passed legislation permitting sports betting in 2017, with the action made well in advance of the country’s federal sports betting ban being lifted the following year. Furthermore, House Bill 967, also called the Fantasy Contest Act, was approved without some legislators fully realizing that the bill which maintained the legality of daily fantasy sports also removed a rule prohibiting sports wagering from the Mississippi Gaming Control Act.

This then paved the way for sports betting to take place at the state’s 28 land or water based casinos post-Supreme Court decision. Wagering via mobile devices was also approved, although only if such bets are made whilst physically present at an approved casino facility. In addition, coaches or athletes are prohibited from placing wagers, while casinos must report suspicious bets above $5,000, and winning bets worth more than $10,000.

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$800 Million Market

According to Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, the Magnolia State ‘s sports betting market could take up to $800 million in wager per annum once mature, compared to say Nevada whose sportsbooks had a betting handle of $4.8 billion in 2017.

Mississippi’s casinos will subsequently be taxed at a rate of 12% on their wagers minus payouts, resulting in an extra $10 million a year by way of state tax revenue. While this amount may seem relatively small, casinos believe that the product will also help attract more customers to their venues, who will then spend more money on their other games and services.

Mississippi is the country’s sixth largest gambling market, and generated $2.08 billion in revenue last year, resulting in gambling taxes of $250 million for the state. Nevertheless, statewide casino revenue were down by 2% compared to 2016, with sports betting now being seen as a way of improving Mississippi’s flagging casino industry.

US Sports Betting

In May, the US Supreme Court struck down the country’s federal law that banned sports betting from taking place outside of a handful of states, such as Nevada and Delaware.While Oregon and Montana were also originally exempted from PASPA and already have sports betting laws on the books, their offerings are currently limited in scope, and state legislators have taken no action to regulate the industry thus far.

Meanwhile, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York have passed laws allowing sports betting within the state. In June, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo also signed of on a state budget with a provision attached allowing sports betting, with October 1st touted as a possible launch date for the industry.

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In fact, more than half the states in the US have taken steps that move them closer towards sports betting legislation. Amongst those with no sports betting activity or bills in place, however, are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming.