Jackson, Mississippi, USA: Beau Rivage Casino Biloxi and Gold Strike Tunica, two MGM resorts, will start taking sports bets today, eleven days after regulation was passed in the state.
The first wagers will be made by former NFL players Willis McGahee and Robert Royal, along with oddsmaker Danny Sheridan, and Larry Gregory, the former director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Following those wagers, sports betting will be open to the public.
MGM announced the news via Beau Rivage’s Twitter page, which posted: “New era. New game. Sports Book opens August 1st.”
The news came just hours after MGM’s joint sports betting venture with GVC Holdings was announced, which will prepare MGM to launch sportsbooks in up to 15 states, including Mississippi.
MGM is also well placed to offer online sports betting in the Magnolia State, after partnering with Boyd Gaming to expand its online gaming portfolio. Mobile betting is currently only legal in casino premises.
More operators are keen to offer sports betting in the state, with 12 other casinos applying for sports betting licences, as they aim to be active before the start of the NFL season in September
Mississippi becomes the third state to offer legal betting just over two months after the United States Supreme Court erased a federal ban on sports gambling (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, PASPA).
Sports betting became legal in Mississippi by way of a 2017 law legalizing daily fantasy sports in the state. Legislators quietly removed language prohibiting wagering on sports in the event the federal ban ever fell. That became a reality when the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in On May 14.
Just days later, the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) issued draft regulations governing sports betting. A month later, those regulations went into effect and applications started to roll in to the MGC. At the time, MGM announced a July 21 launch date for Beau Rivage, but later rescinded that information.
PASPA was originally passed in 1992, “making it illegal on a nationwide basis to gamble on sports.” Las Vegas (Nevada), however, was given an exemption.
Sports betting in the US is immensely popular. Nevada sports books handled over $4 billion in bets in 2015. In addition, it is estimated that nearly $200 billion is bet illegally on sports annually with bookies and through online sports books based outside the US.
The reason for the financial disparity between legal and illegal betting is the fact that federal law makes Nevada the only state where single game sports betting is legal.
The 1992 Professional and Sports Betting Act (PASPA) prohibited sports betting but granted exceptions to states that had operated forms of sports betting before PASPA’s passage.
Nevada was the only state with single game sports betting, and when New Jersey failed to take advantage of a provision in PASPA giving them one year from the law’s effective date to adopt sports betting, PASPA essentially codified Nevada’s sports betting monopoly. The Supreme court changed that on May 14th in it’s ruling in Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, et al. V. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Et al.
Since then Delaware, in June, became the second state with fully legal sports gambling, following Nevada, which had legalized the practice before the federal law was passed in 1992.
New Jersey also legalized sports gambling barely a day after Delaware.