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Sports Betting Heads Down South, Launching At Mississippi Casinos

Written By Martin Derbyshire | Updated:
Ole Miss football field

Mississippi jumped on the sports betting bandwagon this week, becoming the fourth state in the country to offer legal sports wagering on Aug. 1.

The three others include Nevada, which enjoyed a monopoly on single-game wagering before a May 14, 2018 US Supreme Court decision effectively lifted a federal ban on sports betting. Delaware and New Jersey were the first two states to launch legal sports betting in the wake of that decision.

The first bets in Mississippi were placed simultaneously at MGM Resorts’ Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica.

Not coincidentally, the bets were placed 26 years to the day after casino gambling first launched in Mississippi. The Isle of Capri Hotel & Casino in Biloxi became the first legal casino to open in the state on August 1, 1992.

Former NFL players Willis McGahee and Robert Royal placed the first bets at Beau Rivage.

The Beau Rivage Sports Book & Bar

MGM converted the Coast nightclub and piano bar on the property into a seven-window sportsbook. However, the space reportedly mimics the casinos design enough to appear as though it has always been there.

Beau Rivage is calling it the Sports Book & Bar. It features 18 television screens, theater seating, and a wrap-around bar.

McGahee said it’s going to be a party inside the sportsbook come football season. He also said it is a blessing to have been asked to take part in its opening.

Several other local luminaries took part in placing the first bets in Biloxi, including:

  • State Rep. Richard Bennett
  • Mississippi House Gaming Committee Chairman Rep. Casey Eure
  • Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association Executive Director Larry Gregory
  • Mary Mahoney’s Old French House restaurant owner Bobby Mahoney
  • USA Today network sports analyst Danny Sheridan

Mississippi sports betting law

Mississippi legalized sports betting pending a change in federal law as a part of its efforts to regulate daily fantasy sports in 2017. The May 14 Supreme Court decision brought about that change, so the Mississippi Gaming Commission issued draft regulations governing sports betting just days later.

The regulations allow the state’s 28 existing gaming license holders to apply for sports betting licenses and, if approved, operate retail and mobile sports betting out of the casinos. However, unlike Nevada and New Jersey, mobile betting can only be conducted on property when it launches.

The state will tax sports betting revenue at a rate of 12 percent, the same tax rate it imposes on all gaming revenue. Eight percent of the tax revenue will go to the state. Plus, the other four percent will go to local governments.

The Commission reportedly received 14 sports betting license applications in June. The casinos that applied are as follows:

  • Beau Rivage
  • Gold Strike
  • Harrah’s Gulf Coast
  • Horseshoe Tunica
  • IP Casino
  • Sam’s Town
  • Hollywood Gulf Coast
  • Boomtown
  • Hollywood Tunica
  • Resorts Tunica
  • Jackpot Casino
  • Golden Nugget Biloxi
  • Palace Casino
  • Hard Rock Biloxi

Boyd and Caesars sportsbooks

Boyd Gaming properties, IP Casino in Biloxi and Sam’s Town in Tunica, say they are also planning to launch sports betting in early August. Additionally, Caesars Entertainment announced earlier in the week its Mississippi properties, Harrah’s Gulf Coast and Horseshoe Tunica, will open sportsbooks in mid-August.

Mississippi Gaming Commission executive director Allen Godfrey added that several other casinos will open up sportsbook in the near future.

In fact, the Commission will likely approve licenses for several casinos and sportsbook partners at a meeting on Aug. 16.

Meanwhile, Beau Rivage Sports Book & Bar director Will Hall says most of the early action appears to be on Major League Baseball games. Other popular bets include futures wagers on the SEC championship, and if the New Orleans Saints can win the NFC title. The latter is currently going off at 15-2.

Photo by James Kirkikis /

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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