The US state of Mississippi has ushered in a new era of legal sports betting as two MGM Resorts International-owned casinos took their first sports wagers Wednesday.
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica held simultaneous events to accept the first sports wagers in Mississippi under newly created state regulations permitting licensed casinos to establish legal sports books.
"MGM Resorts is proud to once again assume the leadership position in the hospitality industry," said MGM Resorts chairman and CEO Jim Murren. "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 wagers in two locations in Mississippi."
At 12:00p.m Central Time Wednesday, local dignitaries and legendary sports figures stepped up to the newly constructed sports wagering windows in the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi to place the first legal sports wagers in Mississippi history.
Among them were former Miami Hurricanes Running Back and two-time NFL Pro Bowler Willis McGahee; former Louisiana State Tigers All-American Tight End and NFL star Robert Royal; legendary oddsmaker Danny Sheridan; and Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association’s Larry Gregory, the former Mississippi Gaming Commission executive director.
"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," said Bill Boasberg, president and chief operating officer of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. "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?"
Gold Strike Casino Resort, 350 miles to the north in Tunica, took its first bets from UT Knoxville Wide Receiver and four-time NFL Pro Bowler Stanley Morgan; former Mississippi Gaming Commission chairman Nolen Canon; Mississippi Senate Tourism Committee Chair Lydia Chassaniol; and Mississippi House Gaming Committee vice-chair Representative Cedric Burnett.
At the stroke of noon, the bets were officially entered and ticketed, coinciding with the 26th anniversary of the first casino bet made in Mississippi's modern casino age at the Isle of Capri in Biloxi on August 1st, 1992.
"This is a defining moment in Gold Strike's nearly 24-year history," said David Tsai, president and chief operating officer of Gold Strike Casino Resort. "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."
Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Sports Books are operating out of provisional sports betting windows, with both resorts in the final stages of design for future sports book offerings.
Shares in MGM Resorts International (NSQ:MGM) closed down 9.12 per cent at $28.51 per share in New York Wednesday, just above their 52-week low of $27.88 per share set on July 5th.