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Mississippi Sports Betting Helps State Post 8% Revenue Gain

The few states that have allowed sports betting since a U.S. Supreme Court decision are already seeing an impact on their bottom lines.

Mississippi announced last week an overall increase in August casino revenues. The Mississippi revenue department numbers show $181 million was lost in August by bettors — up 8% from the same time last year.

Of the money lost, just $645,000 was on sports wagers. Nearly $8 million was bet on sports in the first month of legal wagering in Mississippi.

In a victory for a New Jersey challenge in May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on sports betting, allowing other states to join Nevada in being able to wager on sports. Right now, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi have their toes in the betting pool. States that are well on the way to begin sports betting: Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

In July, according to CNBC, Nevada sportsbooks reported $244.6 million wagered and Delaware $8.2 million. In August, New Jersey reported $95.6 million in sports bets and Mississippi listed $7.7 million.

Mississippi casino runners are betting sports wagers, which means more money in their coffers due to increased numbers of gamblers staying in casino hotels, dining and money lost on other games of chance.

Jay Daniel, deputy director for the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told the Associated Press that in October the panel will analyze if wagering on sports is impacting other revenue streams and by how much.

He predicts September numbers will be larger as it gets deeper into the NFL season. Through Sept. 19, $17.8 million was wagered, Daniel said, anticipating between $25 million to $30 million by Sept. 30. Officials believe casinos will gain 6 percent to 7 percent in money wagered.

Also last week, Chad Millman, head of media at The Action Network and former editor-in-chief of ESPN magazine, appeared on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” to talk about the future and impact of sports betting in United States.

He said that over the next two to three years, a majority of states will approve legalized sports wagering. “By the time we get to 2021, you’re going to see 25 to 30 states that have it,” he said.

He believes eventually the federal government will decide sports betting is “big enough everywhere” and make it a federal law.

Another unexpected benefit, sports betting encourages TV viewers to watch the whole game, match, or tournament rather than just bits and pieces of the contest, Daniels said.

“Plenty of studies show people are more inclined to watch games for longer if they have action on the game,” he said.

This will be welcome news to the NFL which has seen a decline in ratings the past few years. In the first week of the new season, ratings ticked slightly up, becoming flat again in the second week of the season. Football ratings on the third NFL Sunday (Sept. 23), likely took a hit with more eyeballs possibly turning to watch if a first-place Tiger Woods would win the Tour Championship and possibly his third FedEx Cup. Tiger did win the Tour Championship to end a five-year victory drought, but Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup. 

As more states contemplate sports wagering, one issue still under discussion is how professional sports leagues will be paid. According to Forbes, since the court ruling many states already are talking with leagues, such as the NFL which could see an extra $2.5 billion added to its bottom line. Some leagues, too, such as the NBA, are discussing receiving an extra 1 percent integrity fee to help pay for monitoring to make sure games stay on the up-and-up. States initially seem reluctant to pay that fee.