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How the Mississippi Sportsbooks Fared Their First College Football Weekend Ever

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Sep/03/2018

Action was expected to be heavy in SEC Country at the Southeast's only existing sportsbooks the first week of College Football.  Mississippi is the first - and maybe only - Southeastern state to open sportsbooks in its Biloxi and Tunica casino. Online sports betting is still only accessible via internationally-licensed websites.

For its part, Sports Illustrated ventured down to Biloxi to record the action Saturday morning.

Unlike in Vegas, betting sheets here are, not by sport, but by College Football conferences.

“They don’t have these in Vegas,” says George Cole, the Imperial Palace’s sports book director. “SEC football—it’s where the action is here.”

 “This is SEC country,” says Danny Sheridan, a longtime sports betting analyst who lives in Mobile, Ala. “They’re going to bet it like there’s no tomorrow.”

So did they?

Yes indeed!

From SI.com:

On the first of those busy Saturdays, the Beau Rivage and its seven ticket windows experienced a rush just before kickoff of the day’s first games, as more than 100 people formed a line snaking some 200 feet to the nearby craps tables. This practice—bettors deciding to wager seconds before the start of a game—is called “balking,” and Will Hall, the Beau’s sports book director, had anticipated it after seeing it in Las Vegas for years. During the mayhem, like a true pro, Hall hurriedly created an eighth ticket window for those wagering $500 or more—a casino isn’t allowing the big bets to be spoiled by kickoff.

1,670 bets, or about 425 an hour. That number hit 3,000 by 3 p.m., and climbed to 5,598 by close at 1 a.m. on Sunday.

“This is a start to football season the likes of what we have never seen before,” says Jay Rood, the vice president of race and sports for Vegas-based MGM, the parent company of the Beau Rivage. “SEC schools draw action.”

The speculation is that College Football Saturdays will be busier than Sunday NFL at these sportsbooks.

The Beau Rivage turned a nightclub into a 245-seat book with more than two dozen televisions, including a theater-sized projection in a location that once served as a stage for performers, SI.com reports.

As for the local bookies and offshore sportsbooks, those aren't going away any time soon.  There is actually a benefit for them.  Especially when it comes to the offshore establishments as there will be no mobile or online wagering outside the Mississippi casinos.

Locals estimate dozens of illegal bookies still exist on the Coast, and sports book directors don’t necessarily expect them to go away. In fact, some believe the legalization could help the illegal activity. For instance, bookies may take bigger bets from their customers because they now can place the opposite bet—that’s called hedging—with a legal sports book. Sports books offer more variety, though, from the kind of wager, like a whopping 15-team parlay, to the type of sport, like Canadian football.

There Will Be Tax Implications

Casinos are required to withhold 25 percent of winnings that exceed $5,000 and are at least 300 times the wager for federal income tax.

Mississippi also levies a 12 percent tax on casinos' gaming revenue, with 8 percent going to the state, 4 percent to local governments.

Internationally-licensed online sportsbooks and bookies do not report your winnings to any government agencies, thus making these businesses far more enticing in that department.

- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com

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