Mississippi Endures Big Sports Betting Decline in February

Mississippi Endures Big Sports Betting Decline in February

After opening 2021 with a state record in total handle, Mississippi saw a decline in the second month.

The state’s February sports betting handle was $47.8 million, down 29.4% from January’s state record of $67.7 million. Mississippi sports betting revenue for February also dipped 49.5% from $9.1 million in January to $4.6 million last month, according to figures from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

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Compared to February 2020, sports betting handle was up 38.7% in February 2021 and sports betting revenue was 118.8% higher in a year-over-year comparison.

Mississippi Sports Betting, February vs January

Betting handle Revenue
February $47.808M $4.607M
January $67.708M $9.114M
Change Down 29.4% Down 49.5%

Basketball was Mississippi’s most popular betting sport in February with roughly $28.5 million in bets across the state’s Central, Coastal and Northern regions combined. Almost $21.5 million was bet on basketball in the Coastal region alone.

Behind basketball, the Coastal region had $6 million on football bets, Central saw $2.9 million wagered on parlay cards and Northern saw $1.1 million bet on football. Overall for region, Coastal led with $34.6 million in sports betting handle for February. Central was second at $7.7 million and Northern tallied at $5.3 million.

Every other state that has reported February figures experienced a similar decline – partly because February had three fewer days and one fewer weekend than January and partly because the Super Bowl, as big as it is, was the only football game to bet on, which was especially important in a football-crazy state such as Mississippi. National leader New Jersey, for instance, had a 22% decline in sports betting handle from January to February.

February slots and table games numbers also fell from January. Slots handle was $1.741 billion, down 14.4% from January ($2.033 billion). Table games handle was $135.5 million, down 11.7% from January ($153.4 million). These figures also declined compared to February 2020 with slots down 9.1% ($1.915 billion last February) and tables games down 15.8% ($161.0 million last February).

Penny slots ruled in all three regions for February, with coin in accounting for almost $478 million in the Coastal region, $188 million in Northern and $111 million in Central. As for table games, blackjack was most popular across the regional board, leading Coastal with $42.4 million in drop, Northern at $12.6 million and Central at $3.9 million. Craps was second to blackjack in all three regions.

Mississippi lawmakers are still slow to pass a true mobile sports betting option. For now, to make an online bet, a customer must be physically present at a casino. Of the state’s 26 casinos, split evenly between land and riverboat, only one offers such an option.

The most recent activity in the state legislature to expand mobile sports betting was two Senate bills – SB 2732 and SB 2396 – both of which died in committee on Feb. 2 before receiving a full vote in the legislative session.

The Mississippi Senate Gaming Commission met in early December 2020 to discuss expansion of the state’s sports betting law that currently requires in-person registration. Present at that meeting was Anthony DelVescovo, vice president/legal counsel for MGM Resorts International, who suggested Mississippi adapt a model similar to New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar and mobile sports betting.

Mississippi Year-Over-Year Sports Betting

Betting handle Revenue
February 2021 $47.808M $4.607M
February 2020 $34.463M $2.106M
Change Up 38.7% Up 118.8%

“Mississippi was an early adaptor of sports wagering in the U.S.,” DelVescovo said at the December meeting, “but every year we wait on this, we are leaving money on the table and letting other states get ahead of us. I’m confident we can get something done.”

DelVescovo’s confidence, and that of anybody with the same mindset, might be left waiting for a while considering Mississippi’s track record on expanding mobile sports betting.

Before the February bills and last December’s meeting, three state House bills – 172, 941 and 959 – were curbed in 2019 before consideration for floor votes.

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