Mississippi is a smaller state, ranked 32nd in terms of size. When sizing it up, it takes up about 48,000 square miles of the United States. Just under its small size, you have the small population as well which ranks 31st with just 2.9 million residents. The magnolia state is also known as “The Hospitality State.”
Mississippi has a rich gambling history that goes back hundreds of years. When the European settlers arrived at the American continent, the Native Americans were already sports betting and the very first horse racing track dates from 1795, still under Spanish ruling: the Fleetfield Race Track, in Natchez.
The geographic situation of Mississippi made it easy to spread gambling through the state, as both the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast enabled people in transit from all over the world to gamble there, unlike Las Vegas or Atlantic City, which required people to travel there on purpose to gamble. Nothing like getting gamblers from those just happening to be passing by.
This was already legal gambling, and this status was maintained when the territory was converted into a US state. This coastal area is known as The Strip and attracted stars like Elvis Presley or Hank Williams to Mississippi. It attracted so many people that the US 90, the road covering the waterline, was among the first to be widened to four lanes in the United States.
In 1950 there was an anti-gambling movement in the Gulf Coast region though, the Biloxi Protestant Ministerial Association. They even ran ads in the local papers to “expose” how gambling machines were violating the Mississippi Law Code of 1942. At the same time, the Senate was also investigating casinos as the origin of criminal business, by a Committee that became known as the Kefauver Committee.
Even if no direct connections between gambling and organized crime were found, the slot machines were confiscated and gambling, legal since the 1700s, was forced to go underground. The clubs that did manage to continue their operations were devastated by 1969 by Hurricane Camille, destroying both tourist and gambling industries in the region, as well as the state’s economies.
It took another two decades until the state of Mississippi made gambling legal again with the Mississippi Gaming Control Act from 1990, allowing casino gambling. The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, allowing Native American tribes to operate casinos on their lands, made this comeback to legality even stronger.
The result of this legislation are the 29 casinos in the state, most of them located in Biloxi, Vicksburg and Tunica, some of them operated by MGM Resorts and Caesars, two of the biggest gaming companies worldwide, turning Mississippi into a major player in gambling in the region once more, just with some competition from New Orleans and Florida.
Mississippi is also one of the states which approved sports betting, should the federal ban on the activity stops, and the Choctaw Tribe from Mississippi has launched a sportsbook, the first time a tribe has launched a sportsbook outside Nevada. This is available at the Pearl River Resort, which also has plans to introduce mobile betting in the venue.
In August 2018 the lottery was finally approved in the state with close 58-54 voting. The lottery should be available to the population within one-year time, making Mississippi leave the restricted group of six states that still don’t offer it.
The main political motivation for this approval is related with the revenues that will be used to repair the state’s highways and bridges, and to keep in-state the millions of dollars spent by the locals in the lottery from neighboring states.
Summing Up Types of Gaming Found in Mississippi
Mississippi has several gaming choices within the state. Most of the options allow players at just 18 and over. There are Vegas-style casinos found within the state with some big city feelings. The state has casinos like Bally’s Casinos, Resorts Tunica Casino, Sam’s Town Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Hollywood Casino, Sheraton and much more.
One odd thing about the state is that they do not have a lottery just yet, even if it’s already approved. Most states have this form of gaming because it allows for more funding for public schools. There are just 6 states which don’t offer a lottery, each for their own reasons. In Mississippi, the reasoning was due to the fact that the casinos are run by the state and the lottery might take away from those.
Scarlet Pearl – D’Iberville