The State of Mississippi appears to be getting into the sports betting business. A federal ban on sports gaming penned in 1992, known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, was recently deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and the Magnolia State appears ready to take advantage.
According to the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, plans are already in place for an existing area of the casino to become a sports book.
“The Golden Nugget wants to create a sports book atmosphere like you get in Las Vegas,” Vice President of Marketing Scott King, recently told Sports Illustrated. “We think there is a potential to give this market an injection of new life.”
Mississippi is currently joined by Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia as the only states in the US to be closing in on becoming full-time home to sports books. Oddly enough, Mississippi actually back-doored its way into the select few states that are allowing sports betting.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the Mississippi Legislature legalized sports betting in Mississippi casinos last year by accident, deleting a portion of a law that prohibited betting on any games that occur outside its current casinos. The new law was put into place to regulate online fantasy sports and also ended up including sports gaming during the Fan Duel and Draft Kings boom. It was a pure happenstance and one that could bring a plethora of income to a state that needs it.
Currently, Mississippi is home to 31-casinos. Of those, three are located on Indian reservations and opened following a Congressional vote enacting the Indian Gaming Act of 1988. The remaining casinos began popping up in Northwest Mississippi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast following the Mississippi Gaming Act being passed in 1990. The stipulation was the gaming must occur on boats and connected to the Mississippi River or the Gulf Coast.
If you think the casinos will be the only winners, Representative Scott Delano begs to differ.
“I’d make the argument the consumer and the sports fans (are), because of the experience they will be able to have (visiting the casinos and able to place bets on site,)” Delano told “Head to Head” radio. He thinks this will further be an opportunity to show those outside the state about what Mississippi has to offer.
“Visitors will have a chance to have a different experience, traditionally during of the slowest times of visitor ship (during the fall and winter months) and will be a better opportunity to attract people (to Mississippi) during the entire year,” Delano noted.
Currently, Mississippi is the only state from the footprint of schools which make up the Southeastern Conference which has legalized sports gaming. From Memphis to New Orleans and Little Rock to Birmingham, Mississippi could accidently be the sports betting capital of the South.
In true Mississippi fashion, it all happened by accident.
(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)
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