Mississippi sports betting off to a strong start
With sports betting potentially in the offing last year the state of Mississippi cleared the way by repealing the portion of its gaming law that prohibited sports betting as long as it was limited to casinos. That important step resulted in a tale of two sports betting markets in the neighboring states of Mississippi and Louisiana, as was made clear in “Changing the Game: the Legal and Regulatory Impacts of a PASPA repeal,” a session held Monday at the Global gaming Expo (G2E), which is taking place this week at the Sands Expo & Convention center in Las Vegas.
With the Supreme Court repeal of PASPA in mid-May, Mississippi needed just 10 weeks to roll out sports betting on August 1, just before the NFL preseason. “It has worked very smoothly,” said Jay McDaniel, deputy director, Mississippi Gaming Commission. “We have 28 commercial operators, 21 of which have a sports book. We are limited geographically; we don’t have Internet or remote wagering statewide but you can do it on-property. Operators were prepared as were regulators. In the first two months, I think results have exceeded expectations of our operators. Annual earnings are expected to be around $40 million, which is good for our state, which has a small population state.”
Mississippi’s results have been buoyed by the absence of sports betting in its Louisiana feeder markets. Senator Daniel Martiny introduced legislation to legalize sports betting last year at 16 casino locations, but the bill faced a couple of hurdles.
“This was not a fiscal session so there were no taxes associated with the bill,” explained Trudy M. Smith, confidential assistant, Louisiana Gaming Control Board. “The only financial piece that was addressed was $1 million on the cost side.”
Then came along racetracks and video poker, who wanted in on the market. “So it went from 16 casino locations to 964 bars, 537 restaurants, 13 racetracks and 202 truck stops. In other words it went from regulating 16 locations to over 1,700 locations, which increased the cost figure to over $25 million with no taxes to offset it,” said Smith. “And then you had the overlay of anti-gambling and anti-expansion of gambling. But Senator Martiny is committed to bringing it back, and I think that the next session, which will be a fiscal session where we can add the taxes back in and work out a more feasible plan.”