One of the first out of the gates in terms of legalized sports betting was Mississippi, which passed its own sports betting laws in 2018.
The previous year, the state repealed the part of its law that prohibited gambling – leading to Magnolia State gaming officials to declare that they would be ready to proceed with regulations – but, back then, Federal law didn’t allow for it. However, when the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018, that hurdle was removed.
Just three months afterwards, in August 2018, retail sports betting in Mississippi was launched. In terms of Mississippi online sports betting – bettors can register from anywhere but bets are limited to Mississippi casino grounds. So, bettors can only complete the process and make their sports bets at a licensed casino.
The first to get the online betting ball rolling was BetMGM – the state’s first online sportsbook, which opened up to Mississippi in September 2021. However, customers have to head over to one of MGMs Mississippi casinos to place a bet.
Let’s take a look at some of the state’s sports betting basics…
The Basics of Legal Sports Betting in Mississippi
Legal gambling is available to Mississippi residents in numerous forms – including sports betting. It has established a historical reputation for gambling – which dates back to even before the country was founded. Indeed, even before the creation of Mississippi, Native Americans and settlers enjoyed card games, horse racing betting and more.
The state sits at the heart of the Mississippi River – and this made it an economic hug for many years in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Eventually, it became well known for food, music, sports and gambling. It has numerous casinos that attracted names such as Jayne Mansfield, Jimmy Buffett, Hank Williams and even the King of Pop himself… Elvis!
However, it was only in 1990 that Mississippi formalized its gambling industry – after passing the Mississippi Gaming Control Act. This allowed for riverboat casinos in the coastal counties. Two years later came the first casino, which relocated to Mississippi from Iowa.
Gambling was integral to the state and had a big impact on the state, until the arrival of Hurricane Katrina – which damaged or destroyed nearly every casino located on the shores. As owners vowed to rebuild their casinos, the state changed laws to allow them to rebuild onshore (but only within 800 feet of water) to avoid a similar disaster in future.
Now, the newly rebuilt gulf region of Mississippi is the third-largest casino market in the US – home to 30 casinos.
Mississippi Sports Betting Timeline
2014: Creation of the Internet Gaming Taskforce
It was way back, in 2014, that the state House Gaming Committee created the Internet Gaming Taskforce to study online betting and mobile betting. Sports betting was added to this and the task force was required to complete a report on these two issues by the end of the year.
This fact-finding mission looked at regulated industries in other states – as well as hurdles that Mississippi might face. They concluded that, at that point, the revenue generated was nowhere near projections of the introduction of internet gaming. Moreover, it appeared that the best way for internet gaming to work well would be for states to work together and make payoffs attractive. Mississippi would also encounter technology issues that other, less rural states might not face. Although this wouldn’t permanently prevent the introduction of internet gaming, it might cause frustrations for gamblers trying to log on – and determine whether or not they are located inside or outside the state.
In terms of sports betting, they were still under a federal ban, which they might not be able to overcome.
2017: Fantasy Sports Bill Paves the Way…
Mississippi formally legalized daily fantasy sports in 2017. The regulatory framework for the industry was laid out in the Fantasy Contest Act (H 967), which followed a similar roadmap to other legalized states.
However, there was a major difference. The DFS law in Mississippi excluded another statute – one which would have huge ramifications. It altered numerous definitions and provisions in the 1972 Gaming Control Act – most notably the one that prohibited sports betting.
This would then allow the Mississippi Gaming Commission to regulate sports betting. Indeed, they claimed that they already did regulate sports gambling – as they arrest anyone who does it illegally.
2018: Mississippi Opens Up Sports Betting
Pretty much as soon as the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May, the Mississippi Gaming Connection released draft regulations for the governance of sports betting. Having been reviewed for 30 days, those regulations were effected and licensed gaming providers started to apply for sports betting.
The next few weeks were filled with regulators preparing to launch sports betting – a race won by BetMGM. Gold Strike and Beau Rivage took the first sports bets in state history on 1st August 2018 – quickly followed by Sam’s Town, Horseshoe and IP Casino.
Mississippi Sports Betting Revenue
Having launched in August 2018, Mississippi became one of the first states to offer its own state-sponsored sportsbook. Throughout the remainder of the year, it generated approximately $14 million in revenue.
The following year, these same sportsbooks handled around $369 in bets. They earned $44.5 million in revenue, paying $5.2 million in taxes.
In 2020, despite the heavy impact of the pandemic, the performance was very similar to the previous year. Then, in January of 2021, it enjoyed its best revenue month – over $9 million.
Because Mississippi sportsbooks are tethered to land-based casinos, with no online betting option, these numbers might start dropping as Louisiana starts growing as a sports betting state.
Popular Mississippi Sports Teams To Bet On
Mississippi is famed for being a sports-loving state, despite not having any professional teams of its own. However, Mississippi sports betting laws allow for bets on professional and collegiate teams – even state college teams.
Although there may be some that won’t want to make sports wagers on anyone other than the Bulldogs, the choice is yours – as you can wager on all of the most popular teams in the US.
Remember, every team in the US will offer a variety of odds – so, before placing any bets, do your research to see how different sportsbooks rate different teams.
The NCAA teams popular for sports betting fans include:
- The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels
- Mississippi State University Bulldogs
- University of Southern Mississippi (Southern Miss) Golden Eagles
- Alcorn State University Braves
- Mississippi Valley State University Devils
- Jackson State Tigers.
Fans of NFL betting, NBA betting, NHL betting etc can enjoy betting on neighboring state teams.
Mississippi Horse Racing Betting
Unusually, despite the state being known for its open-mindedness regarding gambling, horse racing isn’t legal in Mississippi – and the state has no active horse tracks. In fact, Mississippi state laws prohibit residents from betting on horses even in a simulcast capacity – which is legal in many other states that haven’t even fully legalized sports betting!
However, if you are a Mississippi resident, then there are a few options for you. Firstly, if you’re on a casino cruise, you can bet on horse races – because they take you away from state lands, where neither federal nor state gambling laws apply.
In addition, most of the offshore online sportsbooks also offer fully-featured horse racing betting. There are always plenty of horse racing bet types and markets available – but we would always recommend being cautious when gambling at an offshore sportsbook, as it will not be regulated and licensed in the US, which gives you no protection or rights.
Mississippi Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports betting in Mississippi was legalized in 2017 with the Fantasy Contest Act. Mississippi House Bill 967 was agreed upon after they accepted a temporary way whilst the battle of DFS’s legality raged on.
DFS is deemed, in this state, to be a game of skill, not luck, which isn’t then seen to be gambling in the eyes of the US. This is why it could be legalized in 2017 before PASPA was overturned.
DFS requires you to put together a team of a set number of players under a specified salary cap and fight with others to get the most points – against other players from all across the US.
The Location of Mississippi Sportsbooks
There are numerous locations throughout Mississippi, with those located close to the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River being the most fortunate for sports betting.
State laws require casinos to be built within 800 feet of these waterways. This law did allow for an expansion of this distance after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina – which severely hit the casinos positioned on the Mississippi Gulf Coast shores… the most densely populated area in Mississippi.
However, there are other locations. For those based near the Arkansas or Tennessee border, Tunica (Tunica Resorts) has more than half a dozen casinos and sportsbooks. There are also two tribal casinos found in Sandersville and Choctaw – and these are the only retail sportsbooks not based near the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River, being closer to those on Mississippi’s eastern border.
Mississippi Sports Betting FAQ
Is Sports Betting Legal in Mississippi?
Yes, legal sports betting in Mississippi was introduced on 1st August 2018.
Who Regulates Mississippi Sports Betting?
Sports betting in Mississippi is overseen and regulated by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
Where Can I Place a Bet on Sports in Mississippi?
Gambling in Mississippi can only happen to water-based casinos and land-based casinos that are located 800 feet from the specified waterways. That extends to sports betting – with online sports betting and mobile sports betting being disallowed.
The first two Mississippi Casinos to take wagers were Gold Strike (Tunica) and Beaus Rivage (Biloxi) on 1st August 2018. There are now 23 Mississippi properties that offer legal sports betting to Mississippi residents.
Who Can Apply for Mississippi Sports Betting Licenses?
Currently, any property that already holds a gaming license can offer legal sports betting – with around 30 located in the state at this time.
Who Can Bet on Sports in Mississippi?
Anyone aged 21 or over can legally enjoy Mississippi sports betting.
Is Mobile Sports Betting Legal in Mississippi?
No. As we write this, mobile sports betting and online sports betting is not legal, The current law limits betting and sports betting to people that are physically located with a licensed casino. Electronic sports betting is allowed, but only on-site. Persons in the state cannot partake in mobile or online sports betting when not at an online casino.
In 2019, there was a bill introduced at the Mississippi legislature that looked to legalize online sports betting. However, this died in February, without even having a hearing. There is no current move to make online sports betting legal just yet.