DrafKings has announced it will open its first-ever brick-and-mortar sports betting outlet this coming Friday at the Scarlet Pearl Casino in d’Iberville, Mississippi. With its launch, all 12 of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast casinos will have opened sports books since the MGM first got the ball rolling on August 1.
Mississippi was the third state to offer legally licensed sports betting following the US Supreme Court’s striking down of the federal prohibition — after Delaware and New Jersey.
According to a DraftKings statement Monday, the book will be based in the casino’s PRL Bar and will initially have three betting windows and an array TV screens for live sports. It will be headed up by Las Vegas veteran Nicholas Sfanos, who ran sports betting operations for Station Casinos for many years.
DraftKings is an early market leader in New Jersey where its presence is online only, but Mississippi does not permit full-scale online sports betting. Bettors can use their phones to gamble but only when they are inside a physical casino location, leaving DraftKings with little option but to join the retail betting market.
The company said it will launch a mobile betting app as soon as it gets regulatory approval. It’s also awaiting a rubberstamp to offer live, in-play betting and standalone wagering kiosks at the Scarlet Pearl.
DraftKing’s Chief Revenue Officer and co-founder said his company was thrilled to establish a physical presence in Mississippi, which he called “one of the largest and most competitive gaming markets in the U.S.”
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It has been a remarkable pivot for the DFS giant. Just over three months ago, the company had never processed a single sports bet. It has since processed well over a million. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced DraftKings held a 35.4 percent market share in October, with a win of $8.5 million for the month. That was just ahead of its old foe, FanDuel, on 30 percent.
DraftKings may be ahead in New Jersey but it has lagged behind in terms of its expansion into markets beyond the Garden State. Mississippi is its first, although DraftKings does have a deal to operate in New York State — at the Tioga Downs Racetrack — once that market opens up.
By contrast, FanDuel already has a presence in Mississippi and West Virginia, a deal in place in New York, and potential market access to 15 states in all through an agreement with Boyd Gaming. It has the added clout of being backed by UK-Irish sports betting giant Paddy Power Betfair, which acquired the brand in July as a springboard for the US markets.