Mississippi took its first sports wagers this week, making it the third jurisdiction outside of Nevada to deliver a fully legal sports betting offering. Leading the way and taking those historic debut bets were MGM Resorts’ Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica. Given MGM’s highly proactive stance in the nascent US sports betting sector, it’s hardly surprising that it should have been the first to market in Mississippi.
Of course others will follow. Boyd Gaming will introduce sports betting at the Biloxi IP Casino and Sam’s Town in Tunica. And Caesars Entertainment has already made a commitment to introduce sportsbooks at Harrah’s Gulf Coast and Horseshoe Tunica by the middle of this month. Mississippi’s sports betting revolution has begun.
Among those to place the first wagers on Wednesday were sport analyst for USA Today Danny Sheridan and Willis McGahee, a former running back with the Miami Hurricanes. There were plenty of suits lining up too, with the likes of Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association and Richard Bennett, former chairman of the House Gaming Committee getting in on the action.
So what can Mississippi punters bet on? Pretty much anything according to a list that comprises professional and college football; professional and college baseball; professional and college basketball; women’s basketball; women’s college basketball; professional and college hockey; arena football, boxing, the Canadian Football League; mixed martial arts; rugby, college lacrosse; auto racing, World Cup; soccer; golf; tennis; motorcycle racing; truck racing; Olympic sports, air racing; Pro Bowling Tour; and even rodeo.
In terms of how punters can engage, currently, all sports bets will have to be placed in location, so no mobile gaming as yet. It’s not the best news for tech savvy punters who prefer the pace and convenience of betting remotely. But the upside is that physical, location-based wagering might act as a magnet, drawing in bettors from nearby states such as Louisiana, Alabama and Florida where sports betting has yet to be legalised.
At least that’s what state policy makers and businesses will be hoping for. Casino gambling has served the Magnolia state well as a revenue driver since the first dockside facility opened for business on December 5, 1990 in Hancock County. It supports 20,000 direct jobs and generates $840m in wages and benefits annually. If the introduction of legal sports betting can draw in gambling tourists from neighbouring states, the additional income will keep those figures heading in the right direction.