Mississippi casinos can legally begin offering sports betting starting on July 22, but it is unlikely that gaming venues will launch their services on that date.
On June 21, the Mississippi Gaming Commission approved sports betting regulations for the state, setting a 30-day waiting period before wagering could begin. The opening day for the new industry was set one day after the waiting period but, because July 22 is a Sunday, wagering will probably not begin in the conservative state on that day, and perhaps not even in the following week.
Focusing on football
The Gaming Commission must approve each casino that wishes to offer sports betting, and no casino along the Coast of Mississippi has provided a date for opening. Operators say they will be ready soon, and it seems the focus is now on football season rather than the possible opening date of July 22.
Commenting on the setup process for sports betting, the general manager of the Palace Casino, Keith Crosby, said: “Let’s keep our eyes wide open and focus on doing it right and providing quality product and allow it to mature into what it will become.” According to Crosby, rolling out the new industry carefully and correctly will help set the state up for a possible expansion in the future.
The Southeast Conference (SEC) college football season, which is extremely important in this region of the country, will begin on September 1 and the NFL regular season will begin on September 6. This gives gaming operators a little more time to set up their sportsbooks to be ready to take wagers when the football season starts.
Once launched, Mississippi will be the only state in the Southeast and within the SEC that will offer sports betting. It is expected that fans of such SEC teams as Auburn, Alabama, and Louisiana State will travel to Mississippi to watch big games and place bets.
The SEC has been preparing for the opening day of sports betting in Mississippi. During the SEC’s recent media days, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said: “We’ve been in communication with and learning with those who work in legalized sports gambling. We’ve also been in contact over the last year with representatives from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and the PGA offices to monitor and learn from their efforts and to stay up-to-date on their legislative conversations.”
Applications being submitted
Casinos in the Coastal region have been submitting paperwork to provide sports betting services, with the first being the Palace Casino, Beau Rivage, Harrah’s Gulf Coast, Hollywood Casino, and Boomtown Biloxi. According to the Gaming Commission executive director, Allen Godfrey, a number of applications have been submitted.
The Biloxi Sun Herald spoke with representatives of each casino in the southern portion of the state, and all said they are focused on offering sports betting services. Many of the operators have already begun to make renovations for sportsbooks within their gaming venues. Few details have been provided by operators, but we do know that the Palace Casino will be working with William Hill, which has already applied for a license in the state.
With opening day just a few days away, it seems sports bettors will have to wait just a little bit longer before they see sportsbooks offering services in Mississippi. Over the next few weeks, we should see operators beginning to announce when their sportsbooks will be open for business, especially as the NFL and NCAA football seasons draw closer.