Casinos In Mississippi To Offer Sports Betting Next Month

John Houck

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a decades-old ban on sports betting, Mississippi will likely be the first state to take advantage of the ruling. State gambling officials confidently believe most of Mississippi's current casinos will be offering sports betting before the end of June.

To clear up ambiguities in the state's gambling laws related to the regulation of fantasy sports, Mississippi lawmakers quietly made sports betting legal over a year ago. However, under the revised law, the bet must be placed inside a casino. Nonetheless, the state's casinos could not cash in on the Mississippi law as the activity was still illegal under federal law.

With the Supreme Court's decision to lift the sports betting ban, casinos in Mississippi are gearing up to start taking bets as soon as possible. Per a report from the Sun Herald, the Golden Nugget in Biloxi has been anticipating the Supreme Court ruling for some time now and predicts legal sports betting will be a huge help economically to the area, especially since no other surrounding state allows the activity.

"We've been exploring options and locations for at least the past two months expecting it to happen," said Golden Nugget general manager Chett Harrison. "It's definitely going to be a good boost for Mississippi."

The commission expects approvals to go fairly quickly as many of Mississippi's casinos are operated by well-established gaming companies like MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment which have a longstanding, successful history of sports betting in Las Vegas.

"Now we have a direction and will work tirelessly to get this ready," said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Association, after hearing about the Supreme Court ruling this morning.

Even though gambling in Mississippi was legalized over 25 years ago, the state could not permit sports betting due to a 1992 federal law prohibiting the activity outside Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court decided the law was unconstitutional, essentially ruling sports betting laws should be determined at the state level.

While no one knows the exact size of the sports betting market, the American Gaming Association estimates nearly $150 billion is wagered on sports every year, with only $4.5 billion being gambled in legally operating sportsbooks. With sports betting already legal in Mississippi and the federal government removing the ban, casinos in the state will be ready to take in much of that money just in time for football season.