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Gaming commissioner: Mobile sports betting would result in immediate revenue growth

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As state lawmakers continue to mull over legalizing mobile sports betting, one expert says it would bring in more money for Mississippi — a state whose coastal region already ranks top five in generating gaming revenue nationally.

The House of Representatives on February 1 overwhelmingly passed House Bill 774. The legislation would allow residents 21 and up to place legal wagers on sporting events from mobile devices. That legislation is currently pending Senate approval and a nod from Governor Tate Reeves.

Meanwhile, Mississippi Gaming Commissioner Jay McDaniel, who served on the state’s mobile sports wagering task force last year, predicts that the state would see a boost in revenue if mobile sports betting is legalized.

“We would definitely see an increase in revenue just because it would reach all corners of the state,” McDaniel said. “I believe we would capture some from a state like Alabama that doesn’t have it right now legally.”

According to a report from the American Gaming Association, the Mississippi Gulf Coast came in as the No. 5 gaming market in the U.S. in 2023, securing nearly $1.6 billion in revenue. While the Coast remained one of the top markets in the nation, casinos in the area experienced a slight downturn in attendance, resulting in a 0.6% decrease in revenue from 2022.

How could mobile sports betting bridge the gap?

To ensure that Mississippi’s brick-and-mortar casinos would not be left in the dark in a digital age of placing wagers on sports, HB 774 requires a third-party platform – such as DraftKings, FanDuel, etc. – to partner with a Mississippi casino to run its operations.

One example of a Coast casino that could greatly benefit is the Beau Rivage, an MGM property. The Biloxi staple has an existing sportsbook that is operated by third-party operator BetMGM. If the bill is passed and signed into law, all the sports betting platform would have to do is take its operations outside of the four walls of the Beau Rivage and allow people to access the casino’s app and bet on sporting events within the confines of the state of Mississippi.

McDaniel envisions a scenario in which casinos link their rewards programs to a user’s mobile sports betting account and offer certain prizes, such as free rooms or discounted meals, to lure a patron into their facilities.

“I think the casinos will definitely offer their rewards programs through those apps,” McDaniel continued. “Maybe you’re betting in Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford, or Starkville, but if you’re betting on a Gulf Coast casino’s app, they may offer you rewards to come stay down there. That might be an advantage to people who don’t normally get down there. Now you’ve got a reason to play. Win or lose, maybe you collect some points and get a free hotel stay and meal out of it.”

Now, the bill awaits action from the Mississippi Senate.

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