Without Mobile, Mississippi Sports Betting Finally Breaks $1 Billion In Handle

Posted on March 18, 2021

It took 31 months but sports betting in Mississippi finally broke the $1 billion mark for handle since launch in February.

Mississippi was one of the first states to launch sports betting post-PASPA in August 2018. That length of time is the longest it took any state that’ has topped $1 billion in bets to hit that mark.

Mississippi’s $1 billion took significantly longer to hit than the other seven states for one big reason: no mobile betting. All of the $1.005 billion in handle came via retail bets at the state’s 26 commercial casinos.

Comparing the MS sports betting journey to the other 10-digit handle states shows how critical open mobile betting is to maximizing market potential.

Mississippi sports betting is outlier in $1B club

Mississippi is pretty lonely in the table below as the only state to take more than two years to break $1 billion in handle:

StateMonths to $1B HandleAvg. Monthly HandleAvg. Monthly RevenueAvg. Monthly Hold
Nevada4*$337,461,031$23,285,5006.9%
Illinois6**$231,650,246$16,924,9357.3%
New Jersey7$178,186,817$13,431,7707.5%
Colorado8$148,219,327$9,480,1516.4%
Indiana11$93,941,108$7,743,6538.2%
Pennsylvania13$89,630,338$7,445,3398.3%
Iowa19$56,873,967$4,208,6527.4%
Mississippi31$32,438,842$3,777,09311.6%

*Nevada figures tracked since June 2018, the first full month post-PASPA.

**Begins in June 2020. Does not count March 2020 retail operations cut short due to COVID, nor May and April when there was no betting.

Take the Hawkeye view

The table helps display just how crucial mobile sports betting is. Take Iowa, for instance.

Sports betting in Iowa only just broke the $1 billion mark itself after remote registration was finally allowed in January. The state’s sportsbooks have taken 27.1% of the market’s total handle over the two months after in-person registration ended.

PA sports betting is another example. Mobile betting operations didn’t launch until May 2019, six months after sports betting went live in November 2018.

In that six-month period, the state’s retail books took just $162.4 million in bets. Pennsylvania crossed the $1 billion handle mark in November 2019, with $1.002 billion bet over the first seven months of mobile betting.

Mississippi legislators ignore mobile betting bills

It’s not like Mississippi hasn’t had the chance to add mobile sports betting. In fact, it’s had plenty of them.

Even before MS sports betting launched, the state considered rules for mobile betting. The legislature then failed to act on bills in 2019, 2020 and 2021 that would have opened the market to mobile bets.

Part of why mobile betting isn’t added could be that Mississippi’s unique placement in the US means its retail-only betting is the best a lot in the area can get.

Outside of mobile sports betting in Tennessee that went live in November, Mississippi’s other three border states – Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana – are mostly surrounded by areas without legal mobile betting. Arkansas allows sports betting but only in-person at a couple of locations.

That means most people in the area looking to bet on SEC football or New Orleans Saints games have to head to a casino in Mississippi to bet legally.

Who will break $1 billion threshold next?

West Virginia is technically the closest state to breaking $1 billion in bets next with $776.2 million in handle, but it won’t be the next state to join the club.

That ninth spot likely is reserved for Michigan, which could hit the threshold in just its second full month of mobile betting after a huge first full month. Tennessee, with $523.6 million in bets, could beat West Virginia to the mark as well.

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Matthew Waters

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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