Sports betting regulations take effect, casinos not ready

Today is the day that Mississippi casinos can officially begin to offer sports betting, but none have it up and running quite yet. 

The regulations for sports betting in the state were approved 30 days ago, and Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission Allen Godfrey said that they’ve received around 14 applications from casinos across the state, but none are offering betting as of today. However, it won’t be long until it is available, as Godfrey said that sports betting will make its way to Mississippi casinos by the end of the month. 

When sports betting becomes available, he noted that he doesn’t believe that there will be much of a learning curve for Mississippi bettors. 

“A lot of people have been doing this already, and they’ve got a good working knowledge of how this works,” Godfrey said. 

If you’re not someone with that working knowledge, Godfrey stated that each casino must have someone on property that can explain the proper process to you. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April to leave sports gaming decisions to the states, and Mississippi was one of the first to jump at the chance. During the 2017 legislative session in Mississippi, lawmakers passed a bill that paved the way for sports betting in the state should it become legal which has positioned the state to be the only one in the region to offer sports gambling. As for how this will affect revenue, the projections vary, but it’s not just the casinos that will benefit. 

“For every dollar spent at a resort, over 75 cents on the dollar is spent on everything other than gaming; the shows, the restaurants, the golf, and all of the other amenities that come along with it,” Tourism Director Craig Ray said. This is another great amenity that will be offered, and we feel that a lot of people will take advantage of that. So, we should see some very positive tourism numbers with that.”

As for the sports in the state of Mississippi, college sports are king, especially football. At SEC Media Days, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said that sports betting may not be new, but all parties must work together to ensure the integrity of the sport is maintained. 

“Gambling activity around sports is not new, and that includes gambling activity around collegiate sports. What is new is the expansion of legalized sports gambling and the increased cultural acceptance of legalized sports gambling.

“For us, the integrity of our games is of the utmost importance. While it may be preferred to have no expansion of gambling activity, what is needed now is for our state and federal legislative leaders to enact policies that properly support the integrity of our games and provide the necessary protections for our students and our student-athletes.”

Godfrey mentioned that while no conversations have taken place between the gaming commission and universities in the state, he would welcome the discussion. 

At the time of launch, sports betting in Mississippi must be done inside of a brick and mortar building and cannot legally be done online.

Godfrey concluded by saying that after a 4-6 month period of sports betting in Mississippi, there may be a chance to adjust and revise certain regulations.