SEC Football Betting Is Huge at Mississippi Casinos

SEC Sports Betting - Mississippi Sportsbooks 2018

In the first weekend of SEC sports betting, Ole Miss beat Texas Tech 47-27.

Legal sports betting is a bit different in the Deep South. Betting slips are a good indication of exactly how different it is. In the Imperial Palace Casino’s sportsbook, the various sports have their own betting sheets packed in baskets with labels: NFL, MLB, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and college football are listed.

It would be the same for any other casino’s sportsbook. In Mississippi, though, there is another category: SEC football betting slips. The SEC is the local sports conference: the Southeast Conference.

George Cole, sportsbook director at Imperial Palace, said of the SEC football betting slips, “They don’t have these in Vegas. SEC football — it’s where the action is here.” That might be so, but perhaps all US sportsbooks should feature SEC betting slip.

This was expected. Once the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA and allowed individual US states to decide on legalizing sports betting or not, Mississippi was bound to have legal sportsbooks. And when college football season arrived, a new level of sports betting furor would be reached.

Why SEC Football Betting Is Supreme

SEC football is an institution in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and other neighboring states. In the south and throughout the United States, SEC football teams are considered the best. It is hard to argue against that assumption. Ten of the last 15 national champions have come from the SEC.

In the Deep South, SEC football takes on a whole new meaning. Though the SEC region now boasts the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and Tennessee Titans in the NFL, none of them existed before 1968. Most of those teams were not in the region before the mid-1990s.

Without pro football teams, college football became the favorite sports for most football fans in the Deep South. Rivalries like the Iron Bowl showdown between Alabama and Auburn or the localĀ Egg Bowl rivalry between Mississippi State and Ole Miss have a unique intensity.

“Bet Like There’s No Tomorrow”

The season began how local betting would play out in Biloxi. University of Mississippi fans gathered to watch their sports bets play out in the Beau Rivage. Ole Miss was playing Texas Tech.

Two plays into the game, Mississippi State went up 7-0 and the room went wild with excitement. One can expect a lot of exuberance, at least as long as the SEC teams continue winning. That’s likely to happen.

Danny Sheridan, a former SEC and NFL football player who helped launched Biloxi’s Beau Rivage sportsbook in August, said, “This is SEC country. They’re going to bet it like there’s no tomorrow.”

Huge Wave of SEC Bettors at Beau Rivage

Bobby Mahoney, a Biloxi resident, restauranteur, and dignitary, was also one of the first bettors to make a sportsbook wager at Beau Rivage. Talking about the wave of visitors from nearby SEC states coming to make a bet on their favorite team, Mahoney said, “They’re pouring in from Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.”

Jay Rood, the vice president of race and sports for MGM Resorts, the parent company of Beau Rivage, said, “This is a start to football season the likes of what we have never seen before. SEC schools draw action.”

Balking: A Sports Betting Tradition

The experience and expertise of MGM Resorts was needed on the first weekend of SEC football betting. MGM Resorts has run major sportsbooks in Las Vegas for decades, so they knew what to expect as kickoff approached.

In the last minutes before kickoff, bettors decided to make their bet — or one last bet. They crowded the cashier office hoping to get their wager made before kickoff — a practice called “balking” in bookmaker terminology.

At the Beau Rivage, management knew what to do. They opened an 8th line at the sportsbook for bettors who planned to wager $500 or more. Like a pro, MGM Resorts did not want to lose any big bets before kickoff.