Sports betting revenue drops after March Madness boost

By Aaron Rice
June 4, 2019

Revenue from sports betting dropped considerably in April after March Madness provided a boost last month. 

Taxable revenue was just over $2 million in April as we enter a slow season for sports betting before football returns this fall. In March, revenues were just under $4.9 million, a far outlier from recent trends, thanks to the college basketball tournament. January and February hovered between $2.7 and $2.8 million. 

Mississippi was the first state in the Southeastern Conference footprint to have legal sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban, but neighbors are beginning to enter the sports betting world as well. 

Louisiana is debating an on-again, off-again, and for right now, back on-again, sports betting legalization in casinos. While it’s a far ways from becoming law, this would have the biggest impact on Gulf Coast casinos, which provide a little more than half of the revenue for sports betting in Mississippi. For Mississippi’s Gulf Coast boosters, they have to be hoping this bill doesn’t make it across the finish line. 

But the future of sports betting, if states want to increase tax revenue, appears to be online according to a new report from the Tax Policy Center, which has analyzed the first year of legal sports betting in the United States.

“As New Jersey demonstrated, allowing mobile sports betting in addition to in-person betting can exponentially increase tax revenue from sports gambling. Nevada and New Jersey were the only states to collect over $20 million in tax revenue over the past year from sports betting, and they are also the only states that offered online wagering throughout their states,” the Tax Policy Center writes.

Our neighbor to the north, Tennessee, has taken that approach by legalizing online sports betting. Unlike Mississippi and Louisiana, the Volunteer State does not have casinos. Therefore, those interested in betting on a sporting event will be able to do so from their smartphone or computer. 

Betting in a casino may be attractive for a destination event such as the Super Bowl or a major boxing match, but it’s likely not going to happen for an average basketball or baseball wager on a Tuesday night. That person will continue to use an illegal, offshore website, which costs the state revenue it would otherwise receive. 

And until Mississippi permits online betting, it will continue to lose that revenue. 


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