Mississippi Casinos Post Record Revenue in April

Mississippi Casinos Post Record Revenue in April as Sports Betting Beckons

Mississippi’s casinos generated gross gaming revenue of $184 million in April, or 5% more compared to the same month in 2017. Furthermore, that total represents an all-time high for the state, and is 1.3% more than the previous record set in 2007 when thousands of volunteers entered Mississippi to assist in cleanup efforts post-Hurricane Katrina.

There are likely to be more positive developments ahead for Mississippi’s gambling market, too, as it is considered one of the state’s most likely to introduce regulated sports betting in the coming months.

Market Analysis

In April, the Magnolia State 12 coastal casinos posted a combined $108.6 million in revenue, up by 9% versus the $99.2 million taken in the same month a year ago, and by $1.4 million compared to the previous record of $107.2 million reported for April 2007. As a result, these southern coastal casinos have now collected $407 million for the first four months of the year, up by $3 million from the same period in 2017.

The news was not so positive for the state’s northern river casinos, though, whose revenue fell in April by 0.9% to $74.8 million, according to data released by the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

State Lottery Option

Mississippi is the country’s sixth largest gambling state, and last year it generated $2.08 billion in revenue, of which around $250 million was collected in the form of gambling taxes. Nevertheless, the revenue figure was down by 2% versus 2016, and reflects a general downturn in the industry following The Great Recession of 2007 to 2013.

Consequently, Mississippi has been considering a range of different options to make its gambling market more attractive, including introducing a lottery in order to provide an alternative to state residents traveling to neighboring states to place bets, such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. According to estimates, a regulated lottery could result in an additional $100 million each year for the state, that could then be used to fund vital projects. As Rep. Mark Baker explains:

“If that money is going to go to educate children and it’s going to go to fix roads and bridges, then it ought to be in Mississippi. I’m just being a realist about it.”

Sports Betting

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal sports betting ban, Mississippi has emerged as one of the frontrunners to launch a regulated industry in the country. Even before the ruling was made, Mississippi had already anticipated the development by passing a bill (HB 967) allowing legal sports betting, with analysts predicting that the industry could be ready in time for the football season.

The hope is that legalized sports betting will provide a much needed boost to the state’s quarter of a century old gambling industry, and its 28 casinos, especially those based in the river areas that have been suffering in recent years. Industry experts have further asserted that casinos will benefit from an upsurge in foot traffic to their venues during major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl.

Proposed Sports Regulation

This month, the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) is expected to give its approval to a range of regulations to govern the state’s potential sports betting market. Amongst the measures proposed is restricting bets to casinos, imposing a 12% tax on sports-wagering revenue, individuals having to pay a 25% tax on their winnings, and restricting coaches and athletes from placing bets on their own teams.

Once the commission approves the regulations, it will subsequently take another 25 days before they are finalized, and a further 30 days before going into effect. It is hoped that sports betting will then be ready for the start of the NFL season on September 6th, and as Tony Scudiero, general manager of Waterview Casino Vicksburg, explains:

“We feel very confident that everything is going to get done, and hopefully just before football season begins, which is probably the most popular of all the betting seasons.”

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