Proposed Sports Betting a Financial Boon to Delta Casinos

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Tunica, Mississippi is home to real money gambling casinos in the Delta region of the state. However, according to a report by Ted Carter on the Mississippi Business Journal website from last Friday, the overall Tunica casino business has suffered continual declines in revenue in recent years. The Mississippi casino business in general has suffered declines in both tourism and real money gambling revenue. Tunica County casino executive R. Scott Barber has blamed these steady declines on the lack of a reason to visit the Delta casino region. In a direct quote in this report, the Caesars Entertainment regional vice president stated, ”Imagine if you are a 25-year old amusement park and haven’t added a new ride or anything.”

The impetus for change and hopefully an upswing in overall revenue has been tied to sports betting. A recent US Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for legalized sports betting in the US on a state-by-state basis. Mississippi quickly established itself as a proactive state for legal sports betting as this landmark case worked its way through the courts to the highest one in the land.

Now that the US Supreme Court has given states the green light to institute legal forms of sports betting within in its borders, Tunica casinos are busy gearing up for the addition of on-sight sportsbooks to its existing casino floors. Barber went on to add, “We’ll be able to attract them (visitors from neighboring Jackson, Tennessee as well as from Birmingham, Alabama and Little Rock, Arkansas).” Noting quite a bit of interest in football, he also pointed out, “We’re in the heart of SEC Country.”
The revenue declines in the Mississippi casino industry have been at a steady rate of three to four percent annually since 2007. This marked the end of highly profitable run that lasted for over 25 years when the state first brought casinos to Tunica County as the birthplace of real money gambling in Mississippi. The rebirth of this industry is now pinning its hopes on legalized sports betting. There are currently 12 brick-and-mortar casinos operating in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region.  State law makers anticipated a favorable decision by the US Supreme Court in this case. The result was previous legislation that was already approved to add sports betting to the other real money gambling options existing on a casino floor.

Barber is in charge of two casinos in the Delta area; Horseshoe Tunica and Tunica Roadhouse. His short-term plans include temporary facilities that would house sports betting in time for this year’s football season starting in early September. Caesars has identified the permanent space inside the Horseshoe for a sportsbook. He also estimated that it would take 12 to 14 months to complete this renovation. Permanent space inside the Tunica Roadhouse is still under review. It is expected that all the owners of the Delta casinos will formulate plans for sports betting both in the short-team as well as with permanent facilities. The ultimate goal would be for each location to offer a sportsbook similar to the ones found in Las Vegas casinos and resorts.

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