New Jersey and Delaware were the first two states to allow sports gambling following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn the federal ban on sports betting in May. In just the first two weeks, New Jersey sports books took in $16.4 million worth of bets.
Mississippi, the only state in the South who will begin legal sports gambling this year, will become the third state to begin taking bets at casino sports books on August 1, 2018.
At noon on Wednesday, the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and at Gold Strike Casino in Tunica will officially place the first bets in the state’s history. The two MGM Resorts International destinations will place the bets at noon, marking the start of the state’s newest revenue stream.
Former NFL running back Willis McGahee, oddsmaker Danny Sheridan, former NFL tight end and LSU Tigers alum Robert Royal, and Larry Gregory, the Mississippi Hotel and Hospitality Association executive director, will be the first four to place bets legally in the state of Mississippi.
According to the Sun Herald, Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi and Horseshoe Tunica, both properties of gambling corporation Caesar’s Entertainment, will be taking on-site betting sometime in the mid-August.
In addition to the four aforementioned casinos, another eight Mississippi casinos are making the appropriate moves to open sports book windows across the state pending approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
The quick process to start legal sports betting comes on the doorstep of the NFL and college football seasons, both of which are the centerpiece of sports books, particularly in the south.
Southern Mississippi athletic director Jon Gilbert told the Sun Herald that while he doesn’t expect the NCAA to tackle issues of sports gambling early in this process, he does expect individual states with legal sports betting to address the issues of fair play and proper conduct with student-athletes.
“We’ve got to be mindful and do a good job of educating our student-athletes,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got to educate our coaches, educate our staff. Largely, we have to educate the university community.”
Gilbert’s three-pronged approach includes education, vigilance, and having an active presence by school administration to tackle any issues head-on.
With sports gambling now on the table in numerous states, rather than just Nevada, the ease of corruption and side bets needs to be carefully monitored, something that new Las Vegas professional sports teams have vigilantly handled thus far.
Gilbert added, “It’s being visible, being compliant and making sure our compliance office and myself are ringing that bell every day of how important it is to be compliant and keep the integrity of the game intact.”
When Mississippi sports books open, the state will begin a major revenue stream that, should it continue to take off, figures to add a big boost to the local economy, in particular tourism.
Online sports betting and mobile betting have been discussed, but states are hesitant to go all-in at this juncture, opting for hand-to-hand exchanges to get people into newly renovated casino resorts.
Being the only state in the south, especially smack in the heart of the SEC football conference, figures to bring a lot of people over to the Magnolia State.
Place your bets, folks. A new era of gambling is upon us, and Mississippi sports betting is almost open.