Mississippi Handle Up But Revenue Down Compared To October
Legal Sports Report

Mississippi Sportsbooks Feel Burrow, Mattress Mack Effect

Mississippi sportsbooks

A top football team, a Heisman winner and Mattress Mack helped shape Mississippi’s sports betting handle and revenue in November compared to October.

Handle rose 17.4% to $56.4 million last month, but revenue tumbled 69.2% to $3.8 million compared to October.

Mattress Mack hurt sequential revenue

First, let’s get something straight: Mississippi sportsbooks did not have a bad month. Revenue actually more than doubled compared to November 2018.

The steep dropoff in revenue from October can be attributed mostly to Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale‘s betting spree. The revenue decline was always expected.

McIngvale estimated he lost around $13 million in his multiple bets on the Houston Astros to win the World Series. He used the bets to hedge against a promotion he ran that would have refunded certain furniture sales if the Astros won.

The majority of those bets were placed in his birth state of Mississippi. Considering the Astros lost, it made sense that the state had an outsized jump in October.

Handle rose 46.2% while revenue increased more than tenfold in October compared to the prior year.

Burrow, LSU help handle

There’s no doubt the success of Louisiana State University‘s football team and its surprise break-out quarterback had much to do with November’s handle.

Handle on football jumped in all three of Mississippi’s reporting regions, according to the state report. Considering LSU’s undefeated season and the Heisman-winning play of quarterback Joe Burrow, the increase makes perfect sense.

Louisiana, of course, does not have legal sports betting. But sports betting is within reach, considering Mississippi borders the Pelican State to the east and north.

So, the $36.1 million bet on football, up 28.8% over October, almost certainly contained a strong mix of bets on LSU games and futures on Burrow winning the Heisman and LSU winning the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Oh, and then there’s the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints. All four of the Saints games in November likely drew strong handle as well, considering they were all against division opponents.

No mobile, no problem?

The local love for LSU is even more impressive, considering Mississippi doesn’t have full mobile sports betting.

There is mobile betting, in a sense: apps can be geolocated to the physical borders of Mississippi’s casinos. Whether the bet was placed at a kiosk, window or app, all of the bets were made at a physical casino.

That doesn’t mean everyone is content without mobile. Rep. Cedric Burnett tried to open up full mobile in 2019 with HB 1481, though the bill failed in committee.

There’s no telling what handle may have been if all the LSU, Burrow and Saints’ fans had to do was cross the Mississippi border instead of visiting a casino.

So far, there are no pre-filed bills to legalize mobile sports betting for 2020.

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- Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.
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