Sports betting facilities are opening in Mississippi just about every day, with a handful more expected on Friday. On Thursday, after a meeting of the Mississippi Gaming Commission in the morning, Allen Godfrey, executive director of the commission, was on his way to check out testing going on at several Penn National Gaming (PNG) properties in advance of their projected openings Friday.
“It hasn’t been overwhelming, it’s just been really busy,” Godfrey said of the slew of openings. “After the initial newness wears off, well, the fall will tell if it’s worth all of their efforts to have it. It’s been a good process so far.”
Before hitting the road, Godfrey’s board approved SBTech and William Hill as “suitable manufacturers and distributors for platforms” to provide sports betting. The companies join IGT and Scientific Games, both of which are also approved providers. By becoming approved providers, the companies can partner with existing, licensed Mississippi casinos to provide sports betting platforms across the state. William Hill announced earlier this month that it signed agreements with 11 Mississippi casinos.
William Hill Sportsbooks Coming to Magnolia State as Mississippi Sports Betting Moves Full Speed Ahead
Penn National Gaming, Inc. expects to begin offering sports betting at Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Casino Biloxi on August 17, 2018, and at Hollywood Casino Tunica, 1st Jackpot Casino Tunica, and Resorts Casino Tunica on August 24, 2018.
‘I can’t wait to welcome fans from across the southeast this fall,’ said Mike Galle, General Manager at Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast. ‘Whether it’s for big SEC football games on Saturday or the New Orleans (Saints NFL) games on Sunday, we expect to provide a great venue for customers to enjoy betting on sports and the other great amenities at Hollywood Casino.’
All except Resorts will have traditional sportsbook lounges of some kind. Resorts is set to install self-serve kiosks in the near future.
William Hill has not yet identified its partner(s) for the aforementioned 11 Mississippi sportsbooks, but given its agreement with the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., it seems likely that PNG and William Hill have teamed up in Mississippi as well.
The commission on Thursday also approved licenses for six daily fantasy companies, including DraftKings and FanDuel, all of which have been operating in the state for a year with permission from the state legislature. The official licensing was merely a formality. DFS licenses in Mississippi are valid for three years and come with a $5,000 application fee.
Of note, Godfrey said, is that for fiscal year 2018, the state collected $150,000 in taxes from daily fantasy.
Mississippi, which has about 30 commercial casinos in the south along the Gulf Coast and in the northwest corner of the state, has been among the first movers in sports betting, becoming the third state behind Delaware and New Jersey to roll out sports betting. The Beau Rivage Resort & Casino was the first to offer sports betting in the Magnolia State when it opened its windows on Aug. 1.
Mississippi is in a somewhat unique position, in that none of its neighboring states are making meaningful progress toward offering sports betting. The only real competition will come from the state’s three tribal casinos, which the state does not oversee. Those casinos, owned by the Choctaw Nation, have plans to open before the end of the summer as well.
Louisiana has land-based casinos throughout the state, but lawmakers have been unable to move sports betting legislation forward.
All of Mississippi’s Commercial Casinos Are Expected to Have Sports Betting in Place by the Kickoff of Football Season.
Godfrey expects that all of Mississippi’s commercial casinos will be open for sports betting ahead of the football season.
”I would say, anyone who has applied for a license, they’re just been waiting for themselves to get ready … getting equipment, (hiring and training) adequate personnel and installing and testing the software platforms,” Godfrey said. “By football season, it would be hard for me to believe that unless something went drastically wrong that they wouldn’t all be up and running.”
Mississippi will get its first peek at how much revenue sports betting will generate in early September, when August numbers are reported. In the meantime, Godfrey is looking at New Jersey, whose licensees now operating posted $3.8 million in revenue on a $40.6 million handle in July, with a bit of envy.
“I think it’s fantastic and they’re not even all up and running, that’s pretty darn good,” he said. “We’d like to see that, but the population is so big up there.”
Godfrey also pointed out a key difference – while New Jersey offers mobile sports wagering across the state, in Mississippi, bettors can use their mobile devices, but only if they on premises at the casino/resort at which the bet is being placed.