Mississippi’s August Sports Betting Boom A Good Sign For Tennessee’s Future

Posted on September 22, 2020

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has reported a substantial increase in sports betting revenue for the month of August.

Many industries have seen a decrease in revenue since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports betting, on the other hand, has seen an overall increase in both participation and revenue nationally.

This could be good news for Tennessee, as sports betting is set to launch there in the next few months.

Mississippi sports betting sees major August spike

Compared to August of last year, Mississippi sports betting revenue was up from $2.9 million to $3.7 million.

Overall handle increased 103.5% to an impressive $40.5 million compared to August 2019’s haul of just under $20 million.

This is also a huge improvement month-over-month. Handle totaled just over $7.9 million in July 2020.

These impressive numbers suggest that the state is continuing to quickly recover from the periodic shutdown of Mississippi casinos due to COVID-19 earlier this year.

Mississippi casinos reopened in May at 50% capacity. Anyone that wants to place a bet in the state must visit a brick-and-mortar casino to do so.

Growth came amid the return of several major sports leagues. Major League Baseball (MLB) kicked off their truncated season July 23 and the National Basketball Association (NBA) resumed play on July 30.

Coastal Mississippi revenue

Coastal Mississippi casinos reported the majority of sports betting action in the state. The region saw a 27.8% increase from last August, generating a total of $2.3 million in revenue.

Wagering in the area rose 77.7% from last year, totaling $23.1 million this August. That number is more than half of the total amount wagered in August throughout the entire state of Mississippi.

Basketball saw the most action from bettors at these coastal casinos during the month. Players wagered a total of $10.9 million, providing casinos with over $780,000 in revenue.

Baseball was another popular sport for bettors. $6.2 million was wagered, earning casinos just over $704,000 in revenue.

Sports TypePlayer WageringState Revenue
Basketball$10.9 million$780,804
Baseball$6.2 million$704,324
Parlay Cards$2 million$346,863
Other$4 million$491,365

Northern Mississippi revenue

Northern Mississippi casinos gathered over $757,000 in revenue. This is up 22.6% from last year. Player wagering at these casinos skyrocketed to $12.2 million, up 171.1%.

Basketball was the most bet on sport in this region as well. Players put $6.8 million at stake, resulting in almost $172,000 in revenue for the casinos.

Although baseball was less popular, it resulted in the most revenue for area casinos. While only $2.8 million was wagered, casinos made over $340,000 in revenue.

Sports TypePlayer WageringState Revenue
Basketball$6.8 million$171,548
Baseball$2.8 million$340,277
Parlay Cards$1.8 million$144,887

Central Mississippi revenue

Basketball was the most popular sport for bettors in central Mississippi as well. $2.3 million was bet, giving casinos over $206,000 in revenue.

Parlay cards were the major revenue generator for the region. Players spent $1.7 million on parlay cards in August.

Sports TypePlayer WageringState Revenue
Basketball$2.3 million$206,838
Parlay Cards$1.7 million$352,303

What this means for Tennessee sports betting

Mississippi sports betting began in August of 2018. The state accumulated $54,000 in revenue during that first month. Since then, total handle and overall state revenue has increased drastically.

Sports betting goes live in Tennessee no later than Nov. 1. The expected revenue yield will be monumental for the state’s economy, especially due to the online nature of Tennessee’s sports betting market.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has previously been a strong opponent to all forms of gambling. Lee let the bill to legalize online sports gambling become law in May of 2019 without his signature.

Although he does not believe online sports betting is in the state’s best interest, Lee applauded the effort of legislators to avoid building casinos.

Lee says he intends to veto any efforts to introduce subsequent forms of gambling to the state. This includes casinos, which he has referred to as “the most harmful form of gambling.”

While casinos might not be in Tennessee’s near future, we’ll soon have a clear picture of what sports betting looks like in the state. If Tennessee’s sports betting journey looks even remotely like Mississippi’s, this may lead Gov. Bill Lee to reconsider his position on gambling.

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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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