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Mississippi Prepares To Jump To 'South Las Vegas'

As the entire sports betting community anxiously awaits a monumental Supreme Court decision in New Jersey, a sleeping giant sits about 1,200 miles south of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

If, as most expected, the Supreme Court announces the repeal of the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) in the coming weeks, and opens the door to almost immediately regulated sports betting in New Jersey, it is expected to try to follow suit in almost the same place as the other 20 states in the United States. But renowned gaming and sports lawyer Danielle Wallach hosted a panel Thursday at the annual Southern Gaming Summit at the elegant Beau Lizzie Resort & Casino in Biloxi, saying she is "sitting in a gold mine" if sports betting becomes legal.

"Mississippi appears to be a giant of sports betting," said Wallach from the company Becker & Poliakov. "To paraphrase it, Mississippi has a real opportunity to be a 'ball bell' when it comes to sports betting."

You may already feel skeptical and distrustful reading this from people who have never been to Mississippi or are not familiar with the rich history and status of the gambling industry here. And if you're part of this camp, please listen to me. As usual when it comes to regulations on sports betting, Wallach is spot on. In fact, I even predict that Mississippi may be able to compete with Las Vegas for a number of reasons, but will become a sports betting mecca in the not-too-distant future.

If you're a regular in this field, you know I love the Mississippi coast. I'd find it hard to mention another area in the United States that boasts casinos, golf courses, authentic cuisine and an all-year-round weather and musical history. Putting sports betting on the equation, this clean stretch of coastline, which offers 62 miles of scenic coastline, moves from a must-see to a must-see area right now.

But there are other considerations to this, most notably the fact that sports betting laws are already in place in Magnolia. That's right. Mississippi very quietly adopted the Daily Fantasy Sports Act in 2017, eliminating any language that would pose a problem for sports betting in the future.

"The language change is subtle but important," said Tommy Shepherd, a gaming lawyer and partner at Johns Walker in Mississippi. "It completely changes the landscape."

This is the Southern Deep South region. And if you haven't heard of it yet, the good guys here are pretty crazy about their soccer. And when it comes to sports betting, football is the undisputed K-I-N-G. What's working in Mississippi's favor is not only that the football fandom in these regions is fierce, but all the other states have barely passed any kind of sports betting bill. This means that Mississippi will literally be the only game in town when it comes to sports betting, attracting customers from places like Louisiana (New Orleans is an hour's drive from the Gulf Coast and easily accessible to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida).

We're talking about Mississippi having a monopoly on local sports betting. The Gulf Coast and the global roster of casinos serve as a boardwalk.

"It will bring a whole new kind of customer to the region, and we estimate it will bring in an additional $50 million to $150 million in gaming revenue," Shepherd emphasized.

Other parts of the state will of course benefit greatly. Tunica, once a popular gaming site, is less than an hour's drive from Memphis.
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Tuesday, January 16, 2024
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