With football season over, Mississippi sportsbooks continued to see a drop in sports betting handle, according to the latest Mississippi Gaming Commission revenue report for January. State sportsbooks took in $35.2 million in handle, down from December’s $40.9 million and November’s $44.5 million. The hold bounced back up in January, from 3.76 percent in December to 7.94 percent in January.
Basketball, both college and professional (Mississippi doesn’t break those down) was the leader in handle for the first time, accounting for $17.1 million and a 5.1 percent hold.
The jump in hold across the state can be attributed to parlays, which had a 16.4 percent hold on $5.2 million in wagers. Customers bet $11.6 million on football in January, likely much of it on the Saints, who lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship in late January, as well as on the Super Bowl.
Mississippi taxable revenue falls
Taxable revenue derived from January sports betting was $2.8 million, down from $5.9 million in December.
Mississippi, the third state to launch legal sports betting in 2018, last saw its sportsbooks handle a grand total $157.6 million in 2018, generating $14.8 million in taxable revenue for the year. In August a handful of sportsbooks opened and by the end of the year 23 commercial sportsbooks had opened. There are also several tribal casinos offering sports betting, but they are not regulated by the state gaming commission.
In terms of location, for January, the Gulf Coast sportsbooks accounted for $22.2 million of state-wide handle, followed by $8.3 million in the northern region and $5.6 million in the central region.
For revenue reporting purposes, Mississippi uses a modified accrual method, and handle includes futures bets made, while the taxable revenue does not include futures bets, many of which are not yet decided. For example, bets made in January on the Super Bowl or other events outside of the reporting period are included in the handle, but not the taxable revenue.
Mobile and online sports betting are not legal in Mississippi off-premises, so the state’s numbers reflect bets placed only at brick-and-mortar locations. Bettors can use mobile devices for betting, but only on a casino property. In early February, a group of bills that sought to legalize mobile and internet sports betting died in committee.
Mississippi remains the only southern state with legal sports betting. Neighboring Arkansas legalized via ballot initiative in November, but has not launched, and Louisiana lawmakers continue to wrangle with details, and it appears that whenever legislation is filed, it will require parish-by-parish approval for sports betting, meaning that there could be a big window between legalization and launch. Northern neighbor Tennessee has multiple sports betting bills circulating in the state capital, but none have advanced to a House or Senate vote yet.