- Mississippi sports betting financial trends demonstrate the importance of college sports in the southeast.
- Sportsbooks didn’t set any records in January, but their month-to-month consistency was impressive.
- The success of the SEC in football and basketball drove a big chunk of January betting action.
BILOXI, Miss. – The end of college football season generally coincides with waning interest from sports fans throughout the southeast. In January 2020, however, a banner month for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) meant that Mississippi sportsbooks saw only a slight drop-off in betting action.
Mississippi bookies handled $45.2 million in total betting action in January, only slightly (7.9%) less than the $49.1 million handled in December. They also brought in $4.6 million in revenue, a marked increase over December’s total of $3.5 million.
In January 2019, Mississippi’s sports betting industry saw a $6.6 million (15.8%) decrease in total betting handle from December 2018.
Around $20.5 million of Mississippi’s total January handle came from football. This was a moderate decrease from the $8.1 million (28.4%) posted in December but $9.9 million (76.5%) more than the corresponding total from January 2019.
Fans also bet $19.1 million on basketball, which was the second-highest monthly total on record, trailing only March 2019. This is $5.6 million (41.6%) more than fans bet on basketball in December, and $2.1 million (12.4%) more than they bet on basketball in January 2019.
From the $4.6 million in total revenue, Mississippi collected $371,000 in state taxes and $185,000 in city taxes.
Mississippi College Sports Betting – The Importance Of The SEC
In the southeastern United States, college sports betting reigns supreme. Both Mississippi and its eastern neighbor, Alabama, have no professional sports franchises.
Even in southeastern states that do boast professional teams (e.g., Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, etc.), the passion for college sports tends to be greatly exaggerated compared to the rest of the country.
That was on full display at Mississippi’s casino sportsbooks in January. Louisiana State University’s berth in the college football national championship game drew thousands of Louisiana bettors east to Mississippi.
Louisiana has not yet legalized sports betting, so driving 100 miles or so to Mississippi was the easiest way for LSU fans to bet money on their Tigers.
There is no concrete data on the number of fans who traveled to place bets, but it is possible to infer based on Biloxi casino reports on national championship betting totals.
Despite a difficult matchup—the reigning national champion Clemson Tigers— LSU saw 90% of Mississippi betting action go in its favor.
The preponderance of LSU bets also helps explain how basketball betting accounted for $1.2 million (123.4%) more revenue than football despite accounting for a lower percentage of overall bets. LSU’s 17-point win in the title game ensured that a large percentage of January football bets paid out.
The high January basketball handle is likely a product of a second consecutive successful basketball season for SEC, which could produce as many as seven NCAA Tournament teams this season.
Three schools in states bordering Mississippi (Auburn, LSU, and Alabama) look very likely to make the NCAA Tournament, which could pave the way for another lucrative March for Mississippi bookies.
Until other states in the southeast launch their own sports betting industries, Mississippi is going to remain a go-to destination for southeastern college sports fans.
With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.