The combination of professional and college football, along with a competitive seven-game World Series, helped make October a solid month for sports wagering in Mississippi.
The total taxable revenue for the month was a little more than $12.2 million, an 18 percent increase from October of last year for the state. Those numbers varied by regions, however. The northern and central regions had minimal gains of 5 and 4 percent, while Coastal casinos posted a change of more than 24 percent. Also of note, more than half of the revenue was from baseball.
Because of the timing of the most popular sporting events to place bets on, revenue from sports wagering has– and will – continue to fluctuate greatly by month.
And competition will only continue to increase for money from sports betting since the Supreme Court legalized the practice last year. For now, the Coast has been saved from Louisiana’s inability to pass legislation legalizing sports betting in the Pelican State. They will surely try again.
Other states have moved faster.
In Arkansas, sports betting became legal in July. A year ago, voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing sports betting and the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, is the first to welcome betters. While the timeline is still to be determined, a casino closer to home, Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis, is expected to begin collecting wagers soon. Competition has swallowed a lot of the revenue Mississippi once experienced, and this would likely add further pains to Tunica area sports betting operations.
Tennessee could also add to those pains, but they have some work to do. The state passed an online-only sports betting bill earlier this year, but it has many issues – requiring sportsbooks to buy official league data to settle in-play wagers, a very expensive entry point and high taxes, and a ban on prop bets in NCAA games. Much work remains before the Volunteer State is taking bids.
Legislation was introduced in Alabama this year, but it did not move and most consider sports betting a long-shot with our neighbors to the east.
While competition and the general ebb and flow of sporting events people like to place wagers on will always remain, Mississippi’s requirement that you must be in a casino to place bets greatly limits the pool of those who will legally bet.
As we see, it can be a boon during the World Series or March Madness, but generally speaking a person in Jackson isn’t going to drive to Vicksburg to place a bet on a random baseball game in July. They will continue to bet illegally because bookies are not going to disappear overnight.
While Mississippi made a positive first step in being ahead of the curve when it comes to sports betting, all of the data shows that states need to create an avenue for individuals to bet online to generate the most revenue.