On August 1, Mississippi became the fifth state with active legal sports betting. The Magnolia State is unique in its region by being the only Southern state with legal sports betting; however, its regulations fail to take full advantage of all the economic opportunities available because this activity is only available in Mississippi casinos.
Gamers placed the first legal bets simultaneously in Biloxi and Tunica on Wednesday at noon, but most people are especially eager for football season to begin.
“It’s going to be a party in here,” Willis McGahee, former Miami Hurricanes running back, told the SunHerald. Willis was among those making the first seven bets the Beau Rivage.
In the football-fanatical South, Mississippi’s legal sports betting will give the state an edge over its neighbors. However, by not including mobile sports betting in the state’s legislation, Mississippi is ignoring the potential for even bigger profits.
A Regional Advantage
Mississippi follows Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada in allowing legal sports betting. That makes it the only state in the American South to enjoy that opportunity.
No other Southern state is close to passing legal sports betting legislation. While neighboring Louisiana did introduce legislation (Senate Bill 266) to legalize sports betting, this bill was rejected on a 6-3 vote by the Senate Finance Committee over gambling expansion concerns.
This makes Mississippi uniquely positioned to take advantage of the upcoming football season. Residents who partake in Mississippi gaming will be able to interact with the state’s most televised sport in new ways. It will almost certainly draw in tourism from beyond its borders, too.
But No Mobile Yet
Mississippi gaming offers a local edge when it comes to legal sports betting. But legislators have not done all they can to tap the potential for sports betting inside state borders.
According to Mississippi’s publicized sports betting regulations, bettors will need to go to a casino in person in order to place a bet. Not only that, but the regulations specifically forbid mobile betting. For example, the language specifically forbids a bettor from accessing mobile sports betting apps while parked in a casino parking garage.
By limiting locations, Mississippi risks putting sports betting control solely in the hands of casinos. It also puts an arbitrary limit on how much revenue it can expect to earn—not everyone has time to visit the casino, but many more bettors have time for a few clicks on a smartphone.
Located in the heart of football country, Mississippi gaming is uniquely primed to make this upcoming football season the most profitable one yet. But until mobile sports betting is accessible to all Mississippi bettors, the state won’t enjoy the economic benefits seen by other states which are including mobile provisions in their rational regulations.