Mississippi Sports Gambling Delayed As Casinos Prepare
Mississippi’s plans for legal sports betting suffered a minor setback on Saturday after casino operators announced they weren’t ready to open.
Despite anticipating opening this past weekend, Mississippi Gaming Commissioner Allen Godfrey, talking with Reuters, announced it would be roughly two more weeks before they’d be able to start taking bets.
“Technically the regulations are effective, but they need to gain permission before they can do it and that’s what they’re working on now.”
Mississippi casinos wishing to begin offering sports betting need permission from the Mississippi Gaming Commission before beginning operation, and that requires a check of the casino’s equipment and operations. According to Godfrey, these checks haven’t taken place yet.
“Right now, the ones wanting to get started are still in the renovation phase.”
Casinos Focusing On Quality First
July 21st was the first day that Mississippi state law would have allowed legalized sports betting. The original plan for many casinos was to launch on the 21st, but most casinos are still working on finishing construction of sports bars and meeting other state requirements, necessitating the delay.
Speaking with the Sun Herald, Palace Casino general manager Keith Crosby said they were taking their time to ensure a good experience for patrons:
“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."
Godfrey mentioned that 13 of Mississippi’s physical casinos had applied for sports betting licenses, with the expectation that all of the state’s 28 riverboat and land-based casinos will eventually have sportsbooks.
Despite the setback, Mississippi is still set to be the third state in the United States to legalize sportsbooks following the Supreme Court overturning the federal ban on sports betting. New Jersey and Delaware have both opened sportsbooks within their borders already, while West Virginia is aiming for September 1st as their official opening for sports wagering.
Despite casinos eagerly preparing for sports betting, there have yet to be any applications for mobile sports betting yet. Unfortunately for those wishing to bet from home, mobile sports betting in Mississippi will be confined to casino property for the foreseeable future.
Golden Nugget VP of Marketing and Resort Operations Scott King said that Golden Nugget plans to apply for a mobile betting license in the future, but that the casino’s main concern is getting their brick-and-mortar sportsbook running first.
“It will be a seamless transition. Right now it’s really ‘let’s get the renovations done,’ ‘let’s get the final system approved’ and we’ll be ready in August.”
Mississippi Leads The South
Mississippi became the first state in The South to finalize the legalization of sports betting on June 21st. The beginning of the process started in 2017 when Mississippi changed state laws to allow sports betting if the federal ban was ever lifted.
While Mississippi’s sports betting will be confined to the state’s casinos, they’ll have a significant time advantage over their southern neighbors, as Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana have yet to approve any laws that would legalize sports betting.
Within Mississippi, the state’s tribal casinos are allowed a head start because of the fact they aren’t subject to the same regulations and requirements due to a compact between the Choctaw Tribe and the State of Mississippi. The compact, agreed to in 1994, recognizes “sports pools” as “allowable gaming under this Compact only if such wagers are allowed on non-Tribal lands under the law of the State.”
Because sports gambling is officially legal in Mississippi, the Choctaw casinos are free to begin offering sports wagering at any time. There is currently no news yet what date the tribe’s three casinos may open their sportsbooks.
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