Both sportsbooks will open their doors at noon. Former NFL players Willis McGahee and Stanley Morgan will place the inaugural bets at each casino.
The good and not-so-good of Mississippi sports betting
The southeast outlier
Mississippi enters the US market as the fourth state to offer sports betting and the third one to do so post-PASPA. It is the first state with sports betting in the American southeast.
Mississippi has long been an oddball in the cultural south when it came to sports betting. The Magnolia State has not shared its neighbors’ historical aversion to wagering.
So, sports betting will come to a state with a long tradition of both gambling and residence by gambling companies. Operators like MGM, Caesars, and Boyd Gaming will bring years of experience to the kickoff of sportsbook operations.
For that reason, the debut of wagering on sporting events will likely be quite smooth. Hopefully, these seasoned operators will avoid the growing pains that some of its New Jersey counterparts have suffered in the past two weeks.
There will be mobile betting…sort of
That said, Mississippi law does not permit sports betting on devices physically outside of the casino. So, some potential revenue will be lost for bettors who cannot make their way to a land-based Mississippi casino.
This revenue loss will be particularly impactful near the borders of the state. Residents of neighboring states could potentially drive just over the border, park, and spend money in Mississippi.
Time is on Mississippi’s side
The debut of sports betting in Mississippi will come just at the right time. Bettors will have the ability to wager on full seasons for both college and NFL football.
The college football season kicks off on Aug. 25. The NFL’s first game will occur on Sep. 5.
Mississippi will also be aided by geography. The nearest state with sports betting is West Virginia.
No other state nearby will have sports betting in 2018. The earliest patch of competition won’t happen for at least a year, and any new entrants will be fighting uphill against the established Mississippi locations.
MGM keeps popping today
MGM’s announcement about the beginning of sports betting in Mississippi caps off an impressive 24-hour period in company history. In less than two days, the gaming giant revealed new partnerships with Boyd Gaming and British gambling tech company GVC.
The deal with Boyd Gaming will allow MGM entry into states in which it has no license. Most notably, MGM will likely be able to operate in some capacity in Pennsylvania, by virtue of Boyd’s deal to purchase Valley Forge Casino Resort (assuming it goes through).
MGM’s partnership with GVC is a joint venture in which both companies will contribute $100 million each. The partnership will serve to expand land-based and online sports betting in the United States.
At present, the deal will mean GVC’s expertise in 13 Nevada casinos, 2 states for sure (New Jersey and Mississippi), and potentially four other states (Maryland, Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts). MGM owns casinos in all those states except Massachusetts, and the MGM Springfield is set to open in late August 2018.
Altogether, MGM has increased its footprint almost overnight. It is rare for one of the largest companies in the world to come out of nowhere, but MGM has done it today.