Mississippi Ends 2020 on Slight Sports Betting Handle Rise

Mississippi Ends 2020 on Slight Sports Betting Handle Rise

Amid a renewed bid for mobile sports betting in Mississippi, the state reported a slight increase in sports betting handle in December, closing a very volatile 2020 on a positive note.

The Mississippi sports betting handle in December was $55,298,807, up 1.6% from November ($54,443,370) and 12.7% ahead of the $49,076,433 of handle in December 2019.

The sports betting revenue dropped 4.3% to $7,762,542, from the $8,108,102 in November. But compared to a year earlier, December was a robust month for revenue; that figure was $3,478,919 in December 2019.

Mississippi’s Coastal region casinos had $37.6 million in sports betting handle for December, Central Region casinos had $8.9 million and Northern facilities took in $8.8 million, according to figures reported on Tuesday by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Mississippi Sports Betting, December vs November

Betting handle Revenue
December $55.299M $7.763M
November $54.443M $8.108M
Change Up 1.6% Down 4.3%

For the year, Mississippi casinos took in nearly $364 million in sports betting handle, a slight drop from the $369 million in 2019. The sports betting revenue for 2020 totaled nearly $44 million for the past 12 months, almost equaling the $44.5 million in 2019.

The total gross gaming revenue in the state was $1.795 billion in 2020, down by about $400 million from the $2.2 billion in 2019.

Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Proposed

The key component missing in Mississippi is true mobile sports betting. Bettors within state lines can place wagers using their phones or laptops, but they have to be physically located within one of the state’s casinos to do so.

That restriction has been a big reason why Mississippi has not kept up with other markets even though the Magnolia State was one of the first jurisdictions to begin taking sports bets after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018.

RELATED: Could Mississippi Expand Mobile Sports Betting in 2021?

Its fellow Southern state, Tennessee, not only launched a mobile sports betting market in November but launched the nation’s first mobile-only market in a state with no casinos. Tennessee has the advantage of major professional sports teams, which Mississippi does not. Still, the fact that Tennessee drew more than $131 million in sports betting handle in just its first month — more than double Mississippi’s record of $61.2 million set in October — should be a wakeup call for Mississippi.

Perhaps it was.

Senate Bill 2396, which would make online wagering legal, has been filed in the Mississippi legislature by Scott DeLano, a Republican from Biloxi.

The bill is the latest effort to change the current law, which requires anyone placing a mobile bet to do so at one of the state’s 26 casinos — 13 on land and 13 on riverboats.

Three bills to expand sports betting in Mississippi went nowhere in 2019. But since then, hurricanes have battered physical casinos in the state, COVID-19 forced them to shut down for months, and neighboring voters approved sports betting in Louisiana in nearly all of its parishes, with implementation coming down the road.

So the urgency to bring Mississippi’s sports betting options up to date might well be increasing.

Check Out: Latest updates and legal Tennessee Sports Betting Sites.

Mississippi Year-Over-Year Sports Betting

Betting handle Revenue
December 2020 $55.299M $7.763M
December 2019 $49.076M $3.479M
Change Up 12.7% Up 123.1%

Decline in Mississippi Casino Gaming from 2019

Other forms of gambling in Mississippi increased in December compared to November but, with coronavirus-related protocols and capacity reductions still in place, the revenues are off from 2019.

The handle (or drop) at the state’s slot machines hit $1.806 billion in December, up 6.7% from November ($1.692 billion), but down 5.4% from December 2019 ($1.91 billion).

The December table games drop was $142 million, a 2.4% increase from November’s $138.7 million. But the December figure represented a 16.2% decrease from the $169.4 million intake 12 months earlier.