With only the Super Bowl to represent football in the February numbers, sports betting handle in Mississippi fell about $10 million in the month from January, according to the latest Mississippi Gaming Commission report, but taxable revenue remained flat as the state’s win percentage increased.
Mississippi sportsbooks took in $25.1 million in bets, as compared to $35.2 million in January, but with a hold of 10.96 percent for February compared to 7.94 percent in January, taxable revenue was about $2.7 million both months. Of course, February is also three days shorter than January but only accounts for so much.
Basketball remained a fan and betting favorite (NBA and NCAA), representing $16.1 of the $25.1 million. Football was second at $4.14 million, followed by parlay wagers at $3.42 million. Across the state, the hold on parlays, routinely a losing proposition overtime, was 24.52 percent or higher, negating losses in football. On balance, Mississippi sportsbooks took a loss of 6.3 percent on football, making it a Super Bowl loser alongside New Jersey and Rhode Island.
It seems the proximity to Louisiana and the New Orleans Saints, which suffered a brutal bit of officiating in the NFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams, may have left the sportsbooks with very heavy New Englands Patriots action.
Coast region remains dominant
The biggest business came in the coastal region, which encompasses the casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Handle there was $14.6 million, while the northern region, which includes casinos in Tunica along the Arkansas border, saw $6.6 million in wagers.
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 February on the World Series winner or other events to be decided outside of the reporting period, are included in the handle, but not the taxable revenue.
Mississippi does not have state-wide mobile sports betting (outside of casinos premises), and in February, the state legislature shot down a package of bills that would have legalized it. Until state lawmakers go that direction, handle like likely to stagnate. In New Jersey, a new high of 80 percent of all wagers came via mobile devices in December.
Mississippi was on the of the first states to launch sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA last May, and remains the only state in its region where sports bets can be legally placed. Neighboring Arkansas legalized sports betting via voter referendum in November, but legislators and regulators are still haggling over the details and timing of launch.