Mississippi has an exceptionally long and storied history in gambling. The modern form of poker was born along the shores of its namesake river. Its most-famous writer took his pen name from a riverboat expression.
As it stands today, Mississippi hosts two of the more prominent locations for gambling in the South, Biloxi and Tunica, and Vicksburg is a destination in its own right as well.
It is also one of the states that pre-emptively passed legislation to allow sports betting should the federal ban against it be overturned. Sports betting launched in the state on Aug. 1. There are brick and mortar betting facilities and plans to offer on-site mobile betting. There are no plans for statewide mobile wagering.
Currently, there are 23 operational sportsbooks at commercial casinos in Mississippi:
- 1st Jackpot Casino Tunica
- Ameristar Casino Hotel
- Beau Rivage
- Boomtown Casino Biloxi
- Fitzgerald’s Tunica
- Gold Strike Tunica
- Golden Nugget Biloxi
- Hard Rock Casino Biloxi
- Harlow’s Casino Resort
- Harrah’s Gulf Coast
- Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast
- Hollywood Casino Tunica
- IP Casino Biloxi
- Island View Casino
- Isle of Capri
- Magnolia Bluffs Casino
- Palace Casino
- Riverwalk Casino Hotel
- Sam’s Town Tunica
- Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort
- Silver Slipper Casino
- Treasure Bay Casino
- WaterView Casino and Hotel
Additionally, the Choctaw Tribe of Mississippi launched the first-ever tribal sportsbook outside of Nevada. The tribe launched sports betting at Pearl River Resort in central Mississippi. There is currently a book on the property. Additionally, they plan to introduce mobile betting on property.
Online gambling in Mississippi falls into the gray area in which many states find themselves. There are no specific laws for or against online gambling in Mississippi. However, players are advised to err on the side of caution and not play online in Mississippi. Relying on correct interpretations of law from law enforcement and juries is not a risk worth taking.
Mississippi state lottery
In a special session on Aug. 28, the Mississippi House finally passed a bill to create a state lottery by a vote of 58 to 54. The lottery should be operational within about a year. Prior to this law, Mississippi was one of six states without a lottery.
Gov. Phil Bryant had been pushing lawmakers for a state lottery, noting the revenue generated would help repair the state’s deteriorating highways and bridges. Additionally, Mississippi residents are currently playing the lottery in neighboring states. Bringing the lottery in-state could capture that audience and generate an estimated tens of millions of dollars annually for Mississippi.
Social casino options
With such a large number of casinos in the state, it is not surprising to find several casinos with their own social casinos. In fact, nine of Mississippi’s properties have their own social casino component. They are:
- Three Caesars properties
- Harrah’s Gulf Coast
- Horseshoe Tunica
- Tunica Roadhouse
- Three Penn National Gaming properties
- Hollywood Gulf Coast
- Hollywood Tunica
- Boomtown Biloxi
- Two Eldorado Resorts properties
- Isle of Capri Lula
- Lady Luck Vicksburg
- Riverwalk Casino Hotel
At any rate, these branded social outlets allow customers and potential customers to try some of the games they will see at the resident properties. All the typical social casino sites, such as Double Down, Zynga, and Slotomania, are available to Mississippi residents.
Mississippi residents also have an excellent opportunity with regard to MyVegas, the MGM Resorts site that provides real-world comps for social play. Gold Strike in Tunica and Beau Rivage in Biloxi are both partners with MyVegas, meaning Mississippi residents and visitors can redeem their loyalty points at both.
State casino operator history
Mississippi’s history with gambling stretches back hundreds of years. Native Americans engaged in sports betting prior to the arrival of European settlers. Under Spanish rule, the first horse racing track in Mississippi, the Fleetfield Race Track, was established in 1795 in Natchez.
Gambling came easy to the state, at least in the early days, due to its geographic advantages. The Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River meant people and money from many parts of the world were in transit in the area. Unlike gambling destinations like Las Vegas or Atlantic City, where people travel explicitly to gamble, patrons of gambling venues in Mississippi were usually just passing through.
Legal gambling in Mississippi persisted into statehood. The area along the coast became known as The Strip. Along with the gambling, it brought headlining acts like Elvis Presley and Hank Williams to the region. The road along the waterline, US 90, was one of the first roads widened to four lanes in the country, due to the traffic concerns.
However, in 1950, things changed drastically. A group of ministers from the Gulf Coast region, calling themselves the Biloxi Protestant Ministerial Association, began meeting with their congregants and others about the dangers of gambling and its ill effects on the home lives of the people in Mississippi. Citing the Mississippi Law Code of 1942, the group began running advertisements in local papers to outline how the operation of gambling machines was in violation of the law.
Concurrently, the US Senate’s Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce was investigating casinos around the country as sources of criminal business. This committee was led by Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, and would eventually be known as the Kefauver Committee. Its effects on organized crime in the country were far-reaching, but locally, the minister group used the proceedings to draw greater attention to the unsavory aspects of gambling.
As a result, most of the slot machines were confiscated, and gambling was forced underground. There were clubs that continued to operate for the next 19 years, but the devastation of Hurricane Camille in 1969 was the coup de grace for both the gambling and tourist industries along the coast. Both the region’s and the state’s economies wasted away.
After 21 years of decline, the state legislature had enough. In 1990, the governing body passed the Mississippi Gaming Control Act, which allowed casino gambling in Mississippi counties along the Gulf Coast or the Mississippi River. The legal situation was also buoyed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which allowed federally recognized Native American tribes to construct and operate casinos on tribal lands.
As a result, there are 29 casinos operating in seven Mississippi counties. The highest concentrations of these properties are in and around the cities of Biloxi, Tunica, and Vicksburg. Two of the leading gaming companies in the world – MGM Resorts and Caesars – have multiple operations in Mississippi. Until Florida allowed casinos to open, the only real competition in the region was in New Orleans.
The bottom line is that Mississippi is a major gambling locale in the US and will likely continue to be so, even with more states getting into the gambling market.
Prominent land-based casinos
|Ameristar Vicksburg||Vicksburg||S, P, B, C, R, LR, 3C, MBac|
|Beau Rivage Resort & Casino||Biloxi||S, P, MBac, B, BJ, C, R, C4, 3C, PGP, MS, UTH|
|Golden Nugget Biloxi||Biloxi||S, BJ, C, R, 3C, MBac, B, MS, PGP, UTH, HCF, DJ Wild|
|Hard Rock Biloxi||Biloxi||S, BJ, C, R, MS, B, PGP, MBac|
|IP Casino Resort & Spa||Biloxi||S, P, BJ, C, R, B, PGP, 3C, C4, LR|
|Island View Casino Resort||Gulfport||S, BJ, C, R, 3C|
|Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort||D’Iberville||S, P, C, BJ, R, MBac, 3C, MS, UTH, HCF, Cajun Stud Poker|
|Gold Strike Tunica||Tunica||S, C, R, BJ, MBac, B, CS, 3C, C4, LR, MS|
|Horseshoe Tunica||Tunica||S, P, BJ, C, R, LR, 3C|
*Slots (S), Craps (C), Blackjack (BJ), Roulette (R), Baccarat (B), Poker (P), Mini-Baccarat (MBac), Pai Gow Poker (PGP), Pai Gow Tiles (PGT), Let It Ride (LR), Caribbean Stud Poker (CS), Crazy 4 Poker (C4), 3 Card Poker (3C), 4 Card Poker (4C), Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH), High Card Flush (HCF), Mississippi Stud (MS), Texas Hold’em Bonus (THB), Big Six Wheel (B6), Bingo (BI), Keno (K), Off-track Betting (OTB), Casino War (CW), Money Wheel (MW), Spanish 21 (S21), Sic Bo (SB), Wheel of Fortune (WF)
State legal environment
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Lottery||No||Studies underway to determine pros and cons|
|Charitable or House-based Gambling||Yes||Bingo|
|Minimum Gambling Age||21|