Mississippi Sports Betting Operations Handle $10 Million in First Month

Posted on: September 7, 2018, 07:16h. 

Last updated on: September 7, 2018, 07:17h.

Mississippi sports betting has got off to a good start, the state’s gaming commission insisted Thursday, with $9.8 million handled at Mississippi casinos from the start of August through September 3.

Mississippi sports betting
The first sports wagers in Mississippi were taken at the MGM Resort’s Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi on August 1 (pictured) but with the NFL season now underway, September is expected to produce more meaningful market figures than August. (Image: MGM Resorts)

Handle relates to bets taken before winnings are paid out. Bookmakers typically retain about 5 percent of handle as “hold,” which equates to their “win” or gross gaming revenue.

The state launched sports betting on August 1 when MGM properties Beau Rivage in Biloxi and the Golden Strike in Tunica became the first casinos to accept wagers. Then on August 17, Penn National (PNG) joined the fray, launching sports books at its Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast in Biloxi and Boomtown Casino in Tunica. PNG rolled out sports betting at its Hollywood Casino Tunica,1st Jackpot Casino Tunica, and Resorts Casino Tunica a week later.

Choctaw Gets in on the Act

Although not included in the figures published this week, SBTech announced the launch of sports betting at the Golden Nugget and Churchill Downs casinos on September 3. And on the same day, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians became the first Indian tribe outside of Nevada to accept sports bets, at its Golden Moon Casino. As a tribal operator, the Choctaw are not required to provide the state with revenue figures.

With such a piecemeal rollout it’s difficult to gauge accurately the performance of the state’s brand new sports books, but Allen Godfrey, executive director of the gaming commission, told Mississippi Today he was broadly pleased with the figures.

“We did not really have any expectations, but these seem like positive numbers,” he said.

August Slow for Sports Betting

Last month, President and COO of Gold Strike David Tsai told Mississippi Today that September’s numbers should offer a clearer picture of the potential of the brand new market.

The handle has been lower than we expect long-term,” Tsai said. “… The better gauge for long-term volumes will be once football season kicks off in September. That said, our handle and betting volumes already exceed that in many Vegas casinos. We are seeing hundreds of guests coming on property to place sports wagers in our new sports book.”

Unlike New Jersey, which handled just under $16 million in its first month, the Mississippi market does not have the advantage of full-scale mobile sports betting. Bettors can use their phones to gamble but only when they are inside a physical casino location.

But the state does have a regional advantage. With the exception of Louisiana, none of Mississippi’s neighbors have legal casino gaming, and its closest competitor in the sports betting market is West Virginia, some 500 miles away.