Mississippi Enjoys A Major Edge In The South

Mississippi Sports Betting Market About To Double With Penn National Additions

Mississippi sports betting

Mississippi sports betting launched just two weeks ago and the market continues to expand at a rapid rate.

Penn National announced Thursday that it will commence sports betting at five Mississippi properties starting Friday. The company will begin with Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Casino in Biloxi tomorrow, then add three properties a week later.

Hollywood Casino Tunica, 1st Jackpot Casino Tunica, and Resorts Casino Tunica all anticipate an opening on August 24. All but Resorts, which will utilize kiosks, plan a full sportsbook.

The sportsbook operations will be the first outside Nevada for Penn National. The company owns the Tropicana and M Resort in Las Vegas.

No word on Penn National partnerships

The company did not announce whether it will work with a partner to operate its sportsbooks. Connecting some closely located dots, William Hill would make a good deal of sense here.

William Hill announced earlier this month that it inked deals to operate books at 11 casinos in Mississippi. The bookmaker did not name any of them, though.

That could be because William Hill still needs approval from Mississippi gaming regulators. That item is on Thursday’s agenda of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, so stay tuned.

The spread of Mississippi sports betting

The addition of sports betting at Penn National’s five casinos brings the total to 10 in the Magnolia State. MGM Resorts properties Beau Rivage and Gold Strike arrived first in the market on August 1, and others quickly followed.

David Tsai, president and chief operating officer of Gold Strike, told Mississippi Today that launch was smooth but action is slow.

“The handle (amount of money bet) 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.”

With college football about to kick off, Mississippi sports betting should receive a major boost. Most Mississippi operators expect SEC football to drive traffic to their sportsbooks. And it will need to because …

Mobile and online a no-go in Mississippi

Bettors in Mississippi must go to a physical casino location in order to place a sports wagers. State law and regulation does not allow mobile or online sports betting outside a casino property. That means you can bet on a smartphone while on the grounds of that casino, but not elsewhere.

While passing on the mobile opportunity for now, Mississippi still expects to benefit from its exclusive regional edge. No surrounding state offers legal sports betting — in fact, the closest at this point is West Virginia, which does not launch for another two weeks.

Mississippi will tax sports betting revenue at 12 percent, with 8 percent targeted for state coffers and 4 percent designated for local governments.

What they’re saying about the deal

Timothy J. Wilmott, Penn National CEO

“Penn National is thrilled to begin offering sports wagering to our customers in Mississippi. Their excitement has been growing since the federal ban on sports betting was repealed in May, and we can’t wait to provide our patrons with another great amenity at our casinos.”

Mike Galle, Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast general manager

“Whether it’s for big SEC football games on Saturday or the New Orleans games on Sunday, we expect to provide a great venue for customers to enjoy betting on sports.”

Justin Carter, Penn National Tunica general manager

“Every time I step on the gaming floor a customer approaches me about sports betting. With the extreme passion in the region around sports, and college athletics in particular, we look forward to becoming a destination for fans in northern Mississippi, Memphis, and Arkansas.”

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]