August 2, 2018 11:17:28 AM
History was made Wednesday in Mississippi, as two Magnolia State resorts, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, held simultaneous events to usher in the era of legal sports wagering.
The resorts, part of the MGM Resorts International portfolio accepted their first sports wagers at noon and now share in the distinction of taking the first sports wagers in Mississippi under newly created state regulations permitting licensed casino operators to establish legal sports books.
"MGM Resorts is proud to once again assume the leadership position in the hospitality industry," said Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive officer of MGM Resorts International. "Sports wagering is a rapidly growing, exciting new entertainment opportunity for our company. We were proud to take the first sports wager in Atlantic City in June and today the first legal sports wager in two locations in Mississippi."
As a part of the MGM Resorts International portfolio, Beau Rivage and Gold Strike launch sports wagering operations with the strong support of MGM's more than 25 years of sports wagering operations experience in Nevada, where the company's resorts combine to write more than 4 million sports wagers each year with an annual handle of more than $1 billion.
Said Bill Boasberg, president & chief operating officer of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, "This is a banner day for Beau Rivage and all of Mississippi and we are proud to lead the way on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Here in the heart of the South, home to some of the most ardent sports fans in the world, we open a whole new era of sports entertainment and we do it on the eve of football season. What could be better?"
At noon, a group of local dignitaries and legendary sports figures stepped up to the new constructed sports wagering windows in the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi for the honor of placing the first legal sports wagers in Mississippi history. Among them, Willis McGahee, former Miami Hurricanes Running Back and two-time NFL Pro Bowler; Robert Royal, former Louisiana State Tigers All-American tight end and NFL star; legendary oddsmaker Danny Sheridan; and Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association Executive Director and Former Mississippi Gaming Commission Exec. Dir. Larry Gregory.
Meanwhile, 350 miles to the north in Tunica, a similar group approached the new sports betting windows at Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica to place bets. Among those given the honor of placing a First Bet at Gold Strike were Stanley Morgan, Tennessee wide receiver and four-time NFL Pro Bowler; former Mississippi Gaming Commission Chairman Nolen Canon; Mississippi Senate Tourism Committee Chair Lydia Chassaniol; and Mississippi House Gaming Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Cedric Burnett.
At noon, the bets were entered and ticketed and the Mississippi gaming industry entered a new era of sports entertainment.
The first Mississippi sports wagers coincide with the 26th anniversary of the first casino bet made in Mississippi's modern casino age -- a dice roll at the Isle of Capri in Biloxi on Aug. 1, 1992.
David Tsai, president and chief operating officer of Gold Strike Casino Resort, heralded the arrival of sports betting with his customers and employees in Tunica.
"This is a defining moment in Gold Strike's nearly 24-year history," Tsai said. "Sports fans have long waited for this day and we are proud to be the first to offer our customers this exciting new opportunity to engage with their favorite sports and teams. We are honored to be a part of Mississippi gaming history."
In New Jersey, regulators report sports betters placed more than $16 million in wagers in just the first two weeks sports bets were legal in the state. The new offering boosted Borgata's overall gaming revenues to a record month of more than $65 million, the best June performance in the resorts' 15-year history.
Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Sports Books are operating provisional sports betting windows. The moves comes two months after the US Supreme Court overturned the federal law restricting sports betting. Both resorts are in the final stages of design for future sports book offerings. Details and timelines of those enhancements will be announced at a future date.