The Southern states in the US have historically been largely anti-gambling. Most forms of gambling are not allowed in that area. But, with the Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, some Southern states are now looking to embrace change.
Gambling tradition in the South
Most of the states in the Southern United States have long seen gambling as an immoral activity that results in no good and causes all sorts of social issues.
Even lotteries were banned for many decades before being allowed. While these states missed out on tax revenue and higher levels of employment as a result of these restrictive laws, they felt it was a fair price to pay for not having gambling infiltrating their society.
Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida have some of the toughest anti-gambling laws in the country, but it seems that this may be starting to change.
Mississippi was one of the first states in the entire country to pass a sports betting bill after it was legalized in May 2018. It is the only Southern state to have done so to date, and the state has already started to offer sports betting to gamblers. There has been a lot of excitement in the area, especially with the college football season having kicked off.
The result has been an uptick in the number of people traveling from neighboring states of Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida to take part in sports betting.
Legalization in Mississippi
The sports betting bill was approved by the Mississippi Gaming Commission on June 21 and a 30-day waiting period was required before sportsbooks could open their offerings to the public.
A casino that wants to offer a sportsbook has to receive a license from the state. The main aim was to have these sportsbooks open in time for the football season because college football is massively popular in the South.
The Southeast Conference, the most competitive conference in college football, kicked off on September 1. This gave plenty of time to the gambling operators to ensure that they had everything up and running after receiving their licenses.
Mississippi is an ideal location for the many avid SEC fans in the neighboring states to place wagers.
The SEC has been working with the various parties involved in sports betting to ensure that they have adequate monitoring policies in place to protect the integrity of their games.
One of the most popular sportsbooks in the state is at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi. The casino was inundated with college football fans who wanted to bet on the kick-off of the new college football season.
In particular, Beau Rivage received a large volume of bets right before kick-off in notable games over the course of the weekend, which is called balking.
Seven of the eight casinos in Biloxi have received sportsbook licenses. Illegal sports betting has been popular in the state for a long time, but the legalized version gives gamblers a lot more protection and security.
Figures released by the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino for the opening weekend for college football saw more than 420 bets being placed per hour during the games. More than 6,000 sports wagers were made during the weekend.
With the SEC being so popular, these figures likely weren’t replicated in other states where sports betting has been legalized but college football is not as popular. Those states will have more fans of NFL teams, with the league set to kick off on September 7.
A lot of the casinos in Mississippi have been working hard to get their sportsbooks ready in time for college football, and several of them have made extensive renovations. The Beau Rivage even turned its nightclub into an area for sports betting, which has 245 seats available for gamblers.
The Imperial Palace, the Hard Rock, and the Golden Nugget completed similar renovations toward the end of August.
However, a lot of these sports betting areas are said to be only temporary. It is believed that the Beau Rivage is going to create a dedicated area for its sportsbook following the Super Bowl, investing around $7m (£5.45m) in the project.
Sports betting legalization has already had positive benefits for the casinos. The Hard Rock reported a 15% uptick in foot traffic since its sportsbook opened.