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The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is believed to be the first tribe outside Nevada to offer sports betting.
In a press release, Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said, “We’re very excited to be one of the very first tribal gaming facilities to offer traditional sports wagering. Our guests can now bet on all professional league sports and major collegiate sporting events on our property.”
According to a report in the Meridian Star as well as the Pearl River Resort website, Sportsbook at Timeout Lounge inside the Golden Moon Hotel and Casino in Philadelphia, Miss., is now open.
The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, which operates the Avi Resort and Casino in Laughlin, Nev. was the first Native American tribe to offer sports betting.
Avi, which opened in 1995, sits on the banks of the Colorado River and is a 90-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip. Complete with the William Hill Race and Sportsbook at Avi, the casino also has more than 750 slot machines, 18 table games, bingo, poker and keno.
Michael Grodsky, vice president of marketing and public relations for William Hill US, said the sportsbook was licensed in 2012 when it was a Leroy’s Sportsbook, which was eventually acquired by William Hill.
Tommy Shepherd, an attorney with Jones Walker in Jackson, Miss., told Legal Sports Report that it will be difficult to see how impactful sports betting will be for the Choctaws because they usually don’t release their revenue numbers.
“I expect [sports betting] is going to be positive for them but to what extent, that’s up in the air,” Shepherd said.
Neal Atkinson, director of table games, poker sportsbook and bingo operations at Golden Moon, told the Meridian Star the resort will implement traditional in-person wagering to start but anticipates adding account-based mobile wagering within the casino in the future.
“We anticipate adding account-based mobile wagering on the premises – and I have to stress the ‘on the premises’ part,” Atkinson said. “You will have to be there for it to work. That way, people will be able to place money on a wagering account with their phone or tablet anywhere on casino property.”
According to the release, in the near future, kiosks and mobile wagering options, in which guests can place bets anywhere on casino grounds, will be available.
“What sets our Sportsbook apart is that we have a dedicated room for our guests to place their bets on a wide variety of sporting events,” Sonny Johnson, interim President and CEO for Pearl River Resorts said in a statement. “The Sportsbook is another great gaming addition for our guests to enjoy on our gaming floor.”
The Sportsbook at Timeout Lounge is fitted with 20 TV’s, three wagering stations, a full bar and 12 state-of-the-art odds boards displaying games and scores.
Although not regulated by the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC), Shepherd said the Choctaw regulations are a “carbon copy” of the MGC regulations.
Gambling is limited to water- and land-based casinos, which applies to sports betting as well. Bettors must physically go to a casino in order to place a sports wager and while mobile wagering is permitted, it can only be conducted on-site. That means no mobile or online betting can take place off the grounds of the casino.
Mississippi sports betting will be taxed at 12 percent. The state will receive 8 percent, while local governments will get 4 percent.
Located roughly two hours from Tuscaloosa, Ala., home to the Alabama Crimson Tide, Shepherd expects the tribal casino to gather a lot of interest from football fans beginning this weekend.
“They are very close to the border of Alabama so I expect them to get a lot of interest from Alabama and Auburn fans that want to place bets but might not make it down to the Gulf Coast,” Shepherd said.
With college football having officially kicked off last Saturday, the Magnolia State is in a prime position to capitalize on the fact that no other state in the South will be offering sports betting in the immediate future.
With the lack of mobile betting for the time being, most Mississippi operators expect SEC football to drive traffic to their sportsbooks.
“There is not a lot of interest in Major League Baseball in Mississippi, but I expect this weekend to be big for the state,” Shepherd said.
MGM Resorts properties Beau Rivage (Biloxi) and Golden Strike (Tunica) became the first two Mississippi casinos to accept wagers on Aug. 1, 2018.
Penn National commenced sports betting at Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Casino in Biloxi on August 17, followed by Hollywood Casino Tunica, 1st Jackpot Casino Tunica and Resorts Casino Tunica on August 24.