Mississippi sports betting operators are reporting a small increase in their sports betting intake for October, but their revenues fell by more than 75%.
The latest figures from the Mississippi Gaming Commission show a handle of almost $33m for October, which is about $1m greater than what was seen in September.
Cause for concern?
Despite the small increase in sports betting intake, there was a significant fall in the operators’ revenues. This figure was $5.3m in September, but it has fallen now to $1.18m in October. This is a hold of just 3.6%, not including the contributions of tribal casinos in the state.
This is a similar trend to that seen in New Jersey, where operators’ handle rose by 41% but their actual revenues were cut almost in half for the period in comparison to September’s figures.
This is causing some concern for the casino operators, who usually have a somewhat reliable income from month to month from their gaming and slots offerings. Now they see that sports betting comes with significant volatility.
Results can go the right way for bettors in a given month, with the opposite occurring the next month. This will cause significant shifts in revenues.
New Jersey is seeing significant increases in intake each month due to its focus on mobile sports betting. The state’s intake from mobile gambling is now greater than sports bets made at offline venues.
Many people from neighboring states are crossing state lines into New Jersey simply to place their sports bets via one of the mobile betting apps.
Mississippi does not have online sports betting, which explains the small increase in intake for the month. The casinos in Mississippi are still performing well, despite the decrease in sports betting revenue. Revenue figures to date are around the $1.77bn mark, which is an increase of almost 2%.
Forthcoming competition for Mississippi
While Mississippi has seen decent intake levels since launching its sports betting offering, a number of bordering states are eyeing up legalization themselves.
Currently, these neighboring states see their residents crossing state lines in droves to place sports bets at Mississippi casinos. This is significant revenue that could be going towards their own state coffers.
Thus, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee will consider legalization during the 2019 legislative session.
Louisiana’s push for legalization
No legislation in Louisiana has been approved yet in relation to sports betting. However, during the November midterm elections, daily fantasy sports were given the green light by voters.
The casinos in Louisiana are worried that many of their customers are now going to Mississippi because of its sports betting offering.
The chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Jones, even spoke about this recently.
He said he had noticed a lot of Louisiana license plates in Mississippi casino parking lots. While it is hard to put a figure on just how many people are taking their business across the border, a significant number of people are doing so.
Representatives looking to push for sports betting legislation during 2019. However, Louisiana still is very anti-gambling when it comes to the state legislature.
It looks a lot likelier that Tennessee will legalize sports betting. There is a sports betting bill in the works for 2019 by Representative Rick Staples, which includes a provision for mobile gambling.
There has been some discussion about this issue so far, mostly positive. However, the state traditionally is also anti-gambling.
Both government houses are in the control of the Republicans, who generally are more conservative on these issues.
The new governor Bill Lee also is anti-gambling. During his campaign, he outlined how he would be opposing the attempted expansion of any gambling laws while in office. Thus we can expect there to be fierce debate on this issue in 2019.
Next step for Arkansas?
At the recent midterm elections, the state approved the issuance of four casino licenses. Two current operations – the Southland Racing Corporation and the Oaklawn Jockey Club – were on the receiving end of two of these licenses.
The other two licenses are going towards new developments. With this level of gambling expansion already getting approval, many will now look to push for legalized sports betting. Arkansas is a state that is very enthusiastic about its horse racing, so there would likely be an appetite and open mind if this were to happen.