Mississippi Casino Handle Rises But Sports Betting Falls in July

Mississippi Casino Handle Rises But Sports Betting Falls in July
By Jim Tomlin

Casinos in Mississippi saw increased action in July as the state’s slots and table games continued to be popular options.

But the summer heat has meant a cooling off period for Mississippi sports betting.

Here are three takeaways for Mississippi gaming in July.

Mississippi Casino Handle On Upswing

The slot machines at 26 commercial riverboat casinos in Mississippi combined for more than $2.441 billion in handle for July. That was a 14.0% increase from June Mississippi handle of $2.142 billion.

Penny slots are usually the most popular option and that continued to be the case in July, with about $1.03 billion in slots handle coming from those machines. The overall slot handle by region broke down as follows: Coastal casinos, $1.5 billion; northern casinos, $590 million; central casinos, $308 million.

The state’s slots made $171.4 million in revenue for July, a drop of about $15 million from the $186.6 million the previous month. The hold percentage declined in a month-over-month comparison. The hold (the percentage of money wagered that the casinos keep) in June was 8.71%, but that fell to 7.02% in July.

As for table games, the handle and revenue both rose in July, according to numbers from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The drop (amount wagered) statewide for table games was $186.21 million last month, up 17.4% from June’s $158.57 million.

The table games revenue rose 4.5%, from $32.6 million in June to nearly $34.1 million in July. The hold percentage tends to be much higher for table games than slots; in July, the hold percentage for table games was 18.3%.

Mississippi Sports Betting Handle Dips Again

Sportsbooks in Mississippi undoubtedly are counting the days until NFL and college football return. Especially SEC football.

The Mississippi Rebels are coming off of a 10-win season, their first since 2015, and USC transfer quarterback Jaxson Dart Heisman odds show him as an outside contender for college football’s most prestigious award as he is projected to replace Matt Corral as the starter. Ole Miss begins its season Sept. 3 by hosting Troy and archrival Mississippi State starts that night at home against Memphis. 

But until football kicks off again in earnest, summer will continue to be a barren time for action on sports wagering in Mississippi.

July’s sports betting handle was $18,296,341, down 27.1% from June, when the state took $25,096,238 in wagers. The year-over-year comparison is worse – last month’s handle was a 40.3% decrease from the $30,659,426 from July 2021.

In fact, July’s handle was the lowest for sports betting in the state since July 2020, when major sports were either still shut down or just starting to return from COVID-19 related delays.

There was one positive for sportsbooks in Mississippi for July, as revenue was $2,527,212, up 21.4% from June ($2,082,091). However, again, the numbers fell short of where they were 12 months earlier; in July 2021, revenue was $2,887,695.

Mississippi Sports Betting: July vs. June

Betting handle Revenue
July $18.296M $2.527M
June $25.096M $2.082M
Change Down 27.1% Up 21.4%

Still No Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting

One factor holding back the sports betting numbers in the Magnolia State is a lack of a true mobile sports wagering market.

Customers can use their online devices to wager if they are physically inside the casinos. For instance, the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica has a deal with BetMGM to offer sports betting from within the facility.

But the convenience of being able to wager any time from any mobile phone has been a game-changer in states with legal, regulated mobile sports betting.

For instance, in neighboring Tennessee, a state with no casinos, the sports betting market is all mobile. Tennessee, boasting a population of just more than 7 million and with teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer, should be expected to outstrip Mississippi – with a population of about 3 million and no teams in major pro sports – in sports betting. But the margin would be a lot closer if Mississippi offered a true online wagering market, rather than seeing Tennessee pull in several times more handle each month. In July it was almost exactly 10 times the amount as Tennessee’s handle for the month was about $182.8 million.

Two more state bordering Mississippi – Louisiana and Arkansas – have started offering mobile sports betting in recent months. Predictably, both states have found that the vast majority of wagers, even at this early stage, are placed online.

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Contributors

Jim Tomlin
Contributing Editor

Jim Tomlin has 30-plus years of experience writing and editing stories about sports, gambling and the intersection of those two industries. He has worked at the Tampa Bay Times, FanRag, Saturday Down South and Saturday Tradition and now lends his expertise to BetMississippi.com, among other sites.

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