Sports Betting Revenues Boost March Profits
Mississippi’s casinos had a good month in March, with profits levels that were the second highest ever since they became legal. This was largely thanks to the success of its sportsbooks during the NCAA college basketball event, March Madness. Legal sports betting has added a string to their bows, helping them to stand out from competitors in nearby states.
The Mississippi Gambling Commission’s figures for March 2019 revealed that gamblers lost $212m during the month. This is a 5% increase in comparison with the March 2018 figure of $201m. The March 2019 figures included the sum of $8.4m through sports betting sources.
The dozen casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast enjoyed a 13% increase in their total revenues in March, reaching $124m. There was only a single month where they performed better – July 2007 was a record.
Bettors Spend Tax Rebates
Historically, March is one of the strongest performing months for casinos in Mississippi. This is when gamblers receive their income tax refunds and then hit the casinos to play the tables and slots.
No research has yet been done on the effects of legal sports betting in Mississippi, but March Madness was a driver for the month’s sportsbook revenues. Over the course of the last year, total casino gaming revenues are up almost 4%.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission attributes this increase to legal sports betting bringing more people into casinos to place wagers, as online sports betting is not permitted. While there, they are likely to play other games.
Chett Harrison, general manager of the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi, spoke about the new trend. He said: “Sports betting is certainly contributing the most to our increased revenue, but it is hard to put actual numbers on the non-gaming components, We do know that those who are sports betting are staying the night, gambling, and eating at our hotel and casino.”
While the Gulf Coast casinos saw significant increases in gaming revenues, the same cannot be said for the 15 Mississippi River casinos. Their revenues dropped by 4%, down to $88m. While this was a decrease in year-on-year figures, the river casinos have seen increases for the past seven consecutive months. In total, they are up 2% over the past year.
There are still concerns about neighboring states legalizing sports betting in the near future. Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee all appear close to passing laws, while Arkansas has also issued four new casino licenses following a recent referendum. One of these will be close to the border with Mississippi.
A major boost to Mississippi’s future gambling revenue fortunes would be legalizing online sports betting. This would be a massive attraction and likely a great success. New Jersey is the shining example of this, with more than 80% of its sports wagers being placed online.