Mississippi’s Band of Choctaw Indians is looking to take advantage of being first. After voting to amend the Choctaw Gaming Commission Regulations at a Special Call Tribal Council Meeting on May 31, the tribe plans to introduce sports betting at its Pearl River and Bok Homa resorts ahead of the college football season – and ahead of other casinos in the state. The idea is for the resorts to establish themselves as a Mississippi sports betting destination.
The tribe has approved regulations regarding sports pools, race books and pari-mutuel racing.
“The Resort is very excited about the opportunity to offer these new products for our guests in a vibrant and advanced gambling environment,” said CRDE Board Chairman and Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said in a press release Tuesday. “These newly approved regulations will allow the Resort to remain on the forefront of the gambling market as well as provide additional revenue streams to the Tribe. The Resort will be able to service all our patrons at Bok Homa Casino, Silver Star Hotel & Casino, and Golden Moon Hotel & Casino.”
Mississippi’s Band of Choctaw Indians Poised to Become First Tribe in Nation to Offer Sports Betting.
The release did not indicate which operator would handle the casinos’ sports betting risk-management or software platform and operational expertise. Or if they would handle internally.
But the decision postions the Band of Choctaws the first tribe nationwide to accept sports bets since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14. Delaware’s casinos became the first commercial casinos to accept sports bets in the post-PASPA era when they began accepting sports bets on June 8 and Thursday, New Jersey plans to be open for sports betting.
In most states, negotiating with tribal interests has slowed the legislative process in terms of developing a law that satisfies both commercial and tribal interests. The movement here by the Choctaws signals that more tribes, after initially giving pause to a new type of gaming, may be ready to enter the market. Some have already put out requests for proposals to handle sports betting risk-management.
The Mississippi legislature passed HB 967 in March 2017. Though the bill focused on fantasy sports, it modified the Gaming Control Act. The end result is that the bill legalized sports gambling in Mississippi, though not until PASPA was struck down.
Mississippi Has Long Been Planning to Offer MS Sports Betting at Its Commercial Casinos in Time for the 2018 NFL Season.
With laws in place permitting sports wagering, Mississippi has been preparing to offer sports betting in time for the NFL season.
The Choctaw may be ready sooner, though no target date has been announced.
“Pearl River Resort, which is a major gaming destination for residents of Mississippi and Alabama, is on the fast track to accept wagers on sports and racing contests and will be among the first casinos to provide this gaming option,” the statement says.
Mississippi has about 30 commercial casinos on the coast in the southern part of the state – some only an hour driving distance from New Orleans – and along the Mississippi River. It also has three tribal casinos, two at the Pearl River Resort and one near Heidelberg.
According to the most recent version of the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s proposed rules, which would apply to the commercial casinos, mobile/online wagering would be allowed on-premises only.
Sports Handle has reached out to the Choctaw Nation for a copy of their new rules and regulations to determine if they will introduce a mobile sports betting product. Other amendments approved by the Choctaw council included measures on skill-based gaming, fantasy contests, and eSports.