With Labor Day – and the official start of the NFL and Southeastern Conference football – coming around in just over a fortnight, Mississippi casinos are in a race against time to start taking sports bets. Already, several of the state’s 12 casinos are taking sports bets, while others are hoping to receive approval by Labor Day weekend.
This weekend, three more casinos opened their doors to sports betting, namely the Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast, Boomtown Casino Biloxi and Hard Rock Casino Biloxi.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission met in Jackson last week to discuss the approval for two operators:
- SBTech (poised to run the sportsbook for Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi)
- William Hill (scheduled to provide sportsbook platform to Hard Rock, Palace and Treasure Bay casinos in Biloxi, Sliver Slipper Casino in Hancock County and Island View Casino in Gulfport).
Under new gambling regulations, the casinos seeking to offer sports betting services need to receive the green light for their rules, equipment, operations and staff. The sportsbook operators also need to receive approval, similar to the approval required for manufacturing slot machines.
Todd Raziano, the general manager of the Hard Rock Casino, which is currently waiting for its sportsbook operator, William Hill to receive approval before Labor Day weekend, said that casinos have “two weeks before football season starts in earnest.”
While fall is a typically slow season for Coast casinos, Raziano pointed out that this was far from the reality this year.
“This region is just so crazy about football,” he said. “We’re so passionate about our teams.”
It was also pointed out by the general manager of IP Casino, which went live with its sportsbook on August 3rd, that Mississippi was the only state in the South to operate legalized sports betting.
“We’re first,” said Duncan McKenzie, “and we’re going to be first for a while.”
The Golden Nugget Casino is hoping to open its sportsbook platform this coming weekend, and the casino’s vice president of marketing, Scott King, said that construction has already wrapped up.
Mississippi believes that it will get a better picture of the results from introducing a legal and regulated sports betting regime after September and October. The state, like many others, is eyeing the sensational result reported by New Jersey in July when the Garden State took in in $40 million worth of wagers on sports.