DraftKings and the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville, Miss. announced a partnership on Monday that will put DraftKings in charge of the casino’s retail sportsbook.
Once live, this will mark two firsts for the Boston-headquartered company: its first retail sportsbook and its official foray into a second state after New Jersey, where DraftKings operates under a license with Resorts Casino and so far has led the competition among N.J. online sportsbooks — by a couple laps — in terms of handle and gross revenue.
“Opening Nov. 16, 2018, the sportsbook will transform Scarlet Pearl’s existing PRL Bar into a multi-screen betting and social destination for sports lovers,” reads Monday’s joint news release.
DraftKings Sportsbook Set to Open in Mississippi This Week North of Biloxi in D’lberville, Which Will Mark the Opening Of Its First Retail Shop
D’lberville is located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and sits just three miles north of Biloxi, which is the epicenter of the state’s hotel and casino scene, home of MGM Resorts International’s Beau Rivage and the Caesars-owned Harrah’s Gulf Coast, among others.
Mississippi’s sports betting market has flourished in the three months since it launched. In September, total betting handle across approximately 20 state-licensed sportsbooks reached $31.7 million, producing $5.5 million in taxable revenue during the first full month of professional and college football.
Of course Mississippi’s market is quite different than New Jersey’s, foremost because in the Garden State, the market is wide open for licensees to offer mobile and web-based sportsbooks to patrons anywhere in the state. Existing regulations in the Magnolia State permit only retail wagering and mobile bets while patrons are located on premises.
To our knowledge, no licensee has yet availed itself of that function, however DraftKings via Scarlet Pearl Casino could be the first. “Pending regulatory approval, the sportsbook will incorporate on-site kiosks and an on-premise mobile app,” according to the press release.
The hotel itself, opened in 2015 after several years of Great Recession-induced delays, houses 300 hotel rooms and a gaming floor with over 1,170 slot machines, including 80 video poker machines, 37 table games, an event center and a “championship level miniature golf course.”
While DraftKings as of yet does not have experience in the retail sports betting realm, it has made three recent splash hires that should bridge the gap. In September the company announced the hiring of respected former Wynn Resorts (Las Vegas) veteran bookmaker Johnny Avello to oversee retail sportsbook trading and risk-management. DraftKings has also poached Frank Kunovic, who previously oversaw over 20 Caesars sportsbooks and racebooks, as well as Stratosphere’s (Golden Entertainment) lead bookmaker Ed Malinowski.
There are sure to be growing pains like the kind that fellow DFS-turned-sportsbook outfit FanDuel experienced at its first retail location, located at Meadowlands Racetrack in North Jersey outside New York City.
Since the market opened up in Mississippi, there have been calls to go fully mobile with state-licesnsed sportsbooks, and lawmakers as well as the gaming commission may take that up in 2019. Daily fantasy sports are legal in the state, meaning DraftKings already has a database of likely sports bettors, setting up DraftKings and the Scarlet Pearl Casino for a nice potential built-in advantage on its competitors in-state.
And speaking of opening up, a pair of Nov. 6 ballot measures will bring some regional competition. Neighbor to the north Arkansas just legalized sports wagering for four newly-licensed casino properties, should they wish to enter that market. Also neighboring Louisiana just legalized daily fantasy sports (in most of its 64 parishes) and a couple lawmakers have expressed an intention to legalize sports wagering, too.