Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sid Salter: Sports Betting Will Affect State Revenue More Than Proposed Lottery

Mississippians have been talking about a state lottery for more than 25 years and still don’t have one – a decision that studies and industry estimates claim keeps between $100 million to $150 million out of the state’s general fund revenues and continues to send state taxpayers across state lines to buy lottery tickets in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida.

Most recently, state government leaders have been debating enacting a state lottery as a means of funding the states growing infrastructure needs. Many observers still anticipate a special legislative session to address infrastructure concerns and a lottery proposal may well be intertwined in that effort.

But with the lottery still mired in political limbo, Mississippi could well be poised to be in the sports betting business within months. In 2017, Mississippi lawmakers passed a law legalizing sports betting within the state’s existing casinos if federal laws allowed it. The U.S. Supreme Court removed the final federal legal hurdle to sports betting in Mississippi when it ruled on Monday to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that had kept states from drafting their own sports betting regulations.

Prior to the high court decision, only Nevada operated a mature market for sports betting operations and has done so since 1949 – hence the term “Vegas line” for odds on sporting events. New Jersey and Delaware have positioned themselves through legislation and litigation to quickly enter the sports book markets most quickly.

There is another group of states – Mississippi, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – that have adopted sports betting legislation that only needed the favorable Supreme Court decision to trigger a swift move to a functioning sports book.

Twelve other states are moving toward enacting sports betting legislation. But Mississippi is the only state in the traditional Southeastern Conference footprint that will be in the sports betting business soon. Not Alabama. Not Arkansas. Not Louisiana. Not Tennessee. Not Georgia or Florida. Not Louisiana. Not Texas.

The fact is that Mississippi and Alabama are the only two states in that SEC footprint that are not in the state lottery business. Mississippi pays the price as we watch our taxpayers stream to state-line lottery tickets destination every time there’s a large PowerBall or MegaMillions jackpot - spending dollars that could have been in Mississippi’s coffers rather than those of our neighboring states.

But in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Mississippi is poised to hold a major advantage in the sports betting book as the only place in the South to legally engage in sports betting – and activity that has always drawn wide participation as an illegal activity. The NCAA rivalry games in the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conference alone will be a huge, huge draw. The NFL, NBA, and the rest of the professional leagues will also attract gamblers.

Saints v. Falcons. Alabama v. Auburn. State v. Ole Miss. George v. Florida. The matchups are endless. And think about March Madness? Instead of an office pool bracket, wide open sports book operations in casino settings.

The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans wager $150 billion annually on sporting events, but that only just under $5 billion of that figure is wagered legally in Las Vegas. The potential quick expansion of sports betting has casino operators salivating. There is potential, at least in the short term, for Mississippi to benefit far more from the legal sports book than from a lottery.

On the flip side of this issue, the NCAA, major athletic conferences, and individual universities are worried about the very real concerns about the potential integrity and NCAA compliance issues that a monumental expansion of sports betting would visit on college sports.

Lottery opponents may also use the Supreme Court decision to try to torpedo the political momentum that the lottery had seemed to enjoy in the state over the last two years.

Regardless, the high court decision on sports betting also returns to square one of the entire subject of casino gaming in Mississippi – the fact that the Legislature didn’t make a particularly good deal when setting the state’s percentage of the “take” from gaming when compared with other states.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

The lottery is nothing but a stupid tax and all the arguments about people crossing the border are asinine (people on government assistance giving that money to the state so the state has money to give people on assistance...durrrr).

However, sports betting has the potential to bring people into the state, particularly given the high interest in SEC sports. Half of Alabama will head to Pearl River Resort or the coast to bet on the Iron Bowl.

If the legislature was more forward thinking, they would not just limit it to casinos. They should designate sports betting zones and grant the right to areas that need revenue. You want to see downtown Jackson take off? Allow sports betting on Farish Street. It'll bring people that no number of blues clubs could ever dream of doing.

Anonymous said...

A real opportunity for Mississippi to think First Class and get ahead of the inevitable rush from sister states. Mississippi has always settled for second class operations and has no attraction whatsoever that is not dwarfed by the other states. We should make every effort from the state level,and the local level where possible, to make the sports book operations in Mississippi the most attractive in the country, bar none. Bubba and the local good ole boys, should get out of the way while the gov and the legislative "leaders" court the outside money to make Mississippi gaming tops east of the river. A chance for Phil to talk about making money instead of cutting everything. Too good to be true.

Anonymous said...

So the Casinos were supposed to fully fund all schools, but has not. Next the Sports betting will solve all our school problems, but it won't either. Then we will need the lottery to fix all our school problems, but it won't either.... I'm not against any of these things, but am a realist and know linking it to education is just a way to make people promote it and won't change anything....

Anonymous said...

901,except for your 'stupid' commentry in your opening, i'll buy into your argument. While a lottery may be a stupid tax, the argument abut people crossing state lines is valid. Many, many do. And it isn't in any way limited to people of public assistance. While there are some, I'm sure, there are plenty of middle and upper income folks over in Delhi many Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Question: do you think the same way about sports betting? That people on public assistance won be participating, regardless of whether it is limited to casinos or expanded as you suggest?

Anonymous said...

Just wait! Poor college players will be betting on or against themselves. If I had an impact on a game, I'd bet against myself and throw the game! Talk about your conflict of interest.

Bill Dees said...

If I lived in Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, why would I drive to a Mississippi casino to bet on a football game when I could get my money down with a simple phone call to my bookie?

Anonymous said...

9:13, not one mention of education in Salter's column.

Anonymous said...

no matter what government does it will never stamp out mafia controlled gambling or just your friendly neighborhood bookie . the reason is because when those guys pay off a winning bet there is no tax liability on the winnings. the federal government will never exempt any income from taxation.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious to hear someone describe the lottery as a stupid tax yet somehow see sports betting as an intellectual pursuit while mentioning Alabama and Auburn fans in the same breath.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with a "stupid tax"? Don't you get less of the things you tax?

The problem isn't taxing stupidity, it's subsidizing it -- that is, the fact that if you decide to blow your income on lottery tickets, I as a taxpayer am still responsible for making sure you get to eat.

Anonymous said...

Holy Cow. It appears he couldn't figure a way to get in a punch to McDaniel's face in this week's column.

Anonymous said...

9:32 That's not the point. The point is that it will make Mississippi casinos and gaming MORE attractive to MORE people. If you are inclined to indulge in a day of gambling, you're more likely to do it in a place where you have the greatest options. That's why Vegas is still in business. On the other hand if you simply want to make a bet in Tuscaloosa you can go to the phone like you say. Or you can go behind the pool hall and shoot craps on your knees. We weren't going to get your money anyway!

Anonymous said...

State lotteries are sold to the sheeple as a funding mechanism "for the children," but history tells us that much of that money goes to unrelated pet projects, high salaries for political patronage appointments, and fancy offices/perks/benefits.

As mentioned above, the players for the most part are people on public assistance who shouldn't be gambling in the first place.

Anonymous said...

913 - I didn't see anything in Salter column about education. Just like there was nothing in the casino promotion back in 1991 about education. There was never any commitment of casino revenue to education despite people like you who continue thst myth.

Maybe, though, if it had been committed to education we would not get idiotic comments like yours, spreading false truths in the process.

Haley Barbour's Love Child by Juanita Jenikins said...

A majority of the comments on this thread explains why Mississippi is 50th in everything.

You can't justify sports betting and speak against a lottery in the same sentence.

Either you are pro-gambling or you are not.

I am sorry, but one Mississippi resident crossing the state line to play the lottery in Louisiana, Arkansas, or Tennessee is one too many. We can't sit up and here and pretend we are raking in the dough.

The common theme between Mississippians, conservative and liberal alike, is how this money will be appropriated and who will be participating in gambling activities.

The hypocrisy is out of control, the Mississippi GOP is preaching open markets, but don't even want liquor stores to be open on Sunday and the same breath having the government serving as the bootlegger in charge. Hell, we still have dry counties in this place? Stop the madness.

It's 2018 and this place is still governed like it is 1918!?

Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama legislatures, have all taken Marijuana bills to the floor, Mississippi's backward's a** legislature can't even get them out of committee!?

The sports booking is the first true thing we are ahead of the curve on in bringing in some sorely needed revenue, good luck on doing the right thing with it. But its safe to assume the Sovereignty Commission that is currently in control of the state legislature will ensure you are well versed on the King James Bible before you can bet $5 over/under on the Egg Bowl at Ameristar in Vicksburg!? SMH

Anonymous said...

9:01 and others of that ilk: Why limit venues where sports book can be made? What's up with limiting it to Casinos or Casinos plus Farish or Casinos plus poor towns? Hell, make it wide open. Free market. Do you understand that concept?

Anonymous said...

Nevada allows it to be done on computer/tablet, but you have to be in the state of Nevada for it to work.

Wow said...

Does anyone know if sports betting will be available to the casinos only? I could see a lot of sports-betting startups assuming it is not just casinos who will be able to do it. Curious about what the law states.

Anonymous said...

Casinos only is what has been written, but final rules and regs are not out from MS Gaming Commission.

Anonymous said...

Assuming 1:42 is correct, we should see a roll-out of the final rules in about 2021. The bill will stall in 2020 due to attempts to include the armadillo as the University of Mississippi Game-Day Crock Pot Special.

Anonymous said...

We really need people listening to the Love Child.

Anonymous said...

I remember when the sales tax was raised from 5% to fully fund edumacation.
Then the sales tax was raised from 6% to 7%......until edumacation was fully funded, then the sales tax was to revert to 6%......this did not happen.

No matter how much $$$ government or edumacation has it will never be enough and both will finds ways to waste what they have....and more.

Anonymous said...

I know for sure nobody in government every proposed that legalized gaming would fund education. Not sure about tax increases being spent on education, but I also doubt that was ever the basis for a tax increase. Of course a lot of you goobs have vivid imaginations.

Anonymous said...

4:54 - I'll take your bet, since this column is about betting. Tell us when it was raised to 6%. And when was it raised to 7%. And when was it said that it would be reduced to 6%.

Also, what do you base your comment on that the tax was to 'fully fund education'? Your memory? We'll check out how good your memory is when you respond.

Anonymous said...

actually, you don't know for sure

Anonymous said...

Wrong, 8:27. Nobody in government or during the legislative process ever claimed 'gaming' would fund education in Mississippi. If you believe otherwise, prove it. Next you'll claim that 'tax free holidays' are a way to pave streets.

Anonymous said...


I have no idea what point you are attempting to make, but most assuredly, when casinos were debated, funding education was used as their major selling point.

It's kind of weird for you to attempt to state otherwise. So much so, that I figure you have some sort of technicality you intend to hang your hat on in order for you to feel like you won an argument, versus simply being accurate. But you will still be wrong there.

The legislature did not "earmark" gaming taxes for education. But many Democratic legislators, most assuredly, sold casinos as a way to fully fund education.

any way:


NELSON, MICHAEL, et al. “MISSISSIPPI: The Politics of Casino Gambling.”

Lame-Duck Redefined.. said...

Early in Salter's article he mentions the possibility of a special legislative session. How in the world would the State's Governor find time to schedule or participate in the run-up to a special session? If you follow him on Facebook, and otherwise, you know he's occupied full time promoting Hyde-Smith and HIMSELF.

"I appeared with him", "Here I am with...", I'm proud to serve on...", "Deborah and I recently traveled to...", "Here I am sitting beside...", "We just returned from...", "I'm honored to have been appointed to...", "Here I am in a motorcycle jacket honoring...", "Proud to be a friend of...", "Here I am sticking a silver shovel in the ground at...", "Look for me soon on a Harley down at the Harley Davidson shop in South Jackson".

Leaves no time for governance.

4:07 said...

8:02 I will tell you the point I was making, since you have no idea. For years I hear people touting, as of they actually know what they are talking about, that casino gaming was sold to the public, or to the legislature on the basis of either: (1) the money derived would be earmarked for education, or (2) the money derived would solve education funding. Neither is true.

Yes, I'm sure some legislators thought the funding would go to education; others though assumed it would solve corrections needs. Still others looked at it as a way to cover increasing Medicaid costs.

But despite the many folks who claim gaming was authorized on the backs of education funding are no more correct than the folks who claim to having seen the Loch Ness Monster. It's just frankly not true.

So you pull out an article written by someone that was not involved in the debate that studies the results after the fact. Nice try but that does not change the fact that he provides nothing to show that the policy change was made 'for the kids' as they say.

My only reason for caring, which you ask, is because I get tired of hearing so called experts expound on crap that their only knowledge appears to come from stories they heard at their grandparents knee. Or just enjoy attempting to rewrite history attempting to push a political agenda.

Anonymous said...

Great question, 9:32. What a moronic assertion that sports betting will be good for tourism. But who are the bigger morons, our politicians or us?

Anonymous said...

8:59 I assume you are being sarcastic. How can sports betting IN our casinos not enhance their attractiveness, hence helping tourism? If 9:32's point were valid, there would be no casinos at all since any gambler can gamble in a back alley, at his weekly poker game, at the truck stop, or by calling his bookie. Believe it or not there are people who will view this as a recreational activity and will dine, drink, and generally spend money at the casino where they bet. That casino may be in Mississippi. Tourism? Yup!

Anonymous said...

The Southern Baptist Convention will vehemently oppose the expansion of gaming in Mississippi. No good can become of this, only continued exploitation and a downward spiral of the poorest population in our state. Sports betting may bring tourists, but surely a lot of undesirables. If history tells us anything, is that education and the quality of life won’t be improved by gimmicks such as sports betting, expansion of legal liquor and the gross inflammation of immorality across the state. How can anyone of good conscience support such action. Will the expansion of gambling make our state better?

Anonymous said...


You are being very disingenuous. You must be one of those Democrat Legislators from the 90s.

Obfuscate all you want, but the "Mississippi Miracle" would not have happened had legislators not purported that Casinos would help fund education.

In fact, in the mid 90's, those same legislators used increasing teacher salaries as a correlation as to why the gaming act should not be repealed.

So, yes, gaming was "sold to the public" as a means to fund education. You can argue semantics all you want in your effort to disguise facts, but the fact remains that is what pushed it through.

My citation? Me. I lived it. I'm sure some internet savvy young-un can pull of Clarion Ledger archives chocked full of the promises by said legislators but it remains:

that Ray Mabus pushed to have the MS Constitution revised to allow for a lottery to fund education. That cost him an election, but opened the door for the lottery vs dockside gaming debate. Dockside gambling didn't require an amendment, but both the lottery and dockside gambling were being pushed with education funding as a primary component. The debate over earmarking would never had occurred if it wasn't being pushed to fund education, and there was much debate about earmarking for education.

So, lie again.

Gaming Promises To Fund Education In Mississippi... said...

10:47 - With due respect to your unsubstantiated bloviation, there is nothing on record supporting your contention that anybody in the process EVER said gaming proceeds would prop up or provide for funding education in Mississippi. No bill, no pre-file, nothing in any committee report, no speech on the floor and nobody quoted in a newspaper ever said any such thing.

You claim 'legislators purported it'.

You say 'gaming was sold as a means of funding education'.

You claim the only citation you need is 'you lived it'.

You say Ray Mabus pushed it to fund education and there was much debate about it.

Yet you have NOTHING....ZERO, ZIP, NADA to back you up other than it's what you believe. Let us know when you find an 'internet savvy youngun' who can root out something to back up your claims.

Oh...WAIT. You heard it at Crechale's one night and again twice at Dennery's. Gotcha.

Anonymous said...

Keep lying and misrepresenting. Reread what I said about Mabus

I gave you citations and stated it was in the Clarion Ledger. You know, before the internet was used for everything.

You keep waffling around the facts, and I can’t figure why it means so much to flat out lie.

Anonymous said...

11:10 - Either bring forward your evidence or shut your fabricating yapper!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to get the previous two commenters in a room and sell tickets to the event. That could easily fund education!

8:20 said...

Well said, 936. The fact that 847 'lived ot' is all he has to back up his claim. Well, 1047, I lived it to. I was in the conversations and the fight. I am not, however, as you try to claim, a democrat legislator from the time. In fact, about as far from it as is possible.

Having been in the fight, as well as 'having lived it' I will bet the ranch, inside a legal casino of course, that you cannot produce anything factual from the time to support your claim. And your attempt to tie it to Mabus lottery push is not even related. (Mabus' loss was much more tied to his closure of the charity hospitals and his budget problems than his support of a lottery, but as I said chasing that rabbit is not related to this argument.)

Keep on believing yourself, because I'm sure it makes you feel good. But understand that people who attempt to rewrite history never go down in history as a learned person. You are headed down tgat same lonesome path.

Anonymous said...

all you guys have to do is google, one of the first 2 or 3 hits on google:

Published Online: March 16, 1994
States Bet on Riverboat Casinos for New Revenue

Thanks to the public's seemingly unquenchable thirst for waterborne games of chance, Mississippi educators these days are savoring a heady brew of teacher-pay raises, health benefits for all school employees, air conditioners in every classroom, new textbooks, and bus and building improvements.

Current plans would raise education spending by nearly $270 million in a state where school funding has held steady at about $900 million for several years. The funding is expected to buy a new assessment system, administrator- and teacher-training programs, and a tech-prep program linking high schools and community colleges.

Much of state government's prosperity can be traced to the growth and popularity of its newest industry: riverboat gambling.

The latest chapter in states' interest in sanctioned gaming as an alternative to general taxes, riverboat casinos are increasingly appearing in the South and Midwest. Like the state lotteries that preceded them, the casinos are being touted as a way to help fund schools.

Mississippi has made the most of the trend, imposing some of the lowest taxes on boat operators and offering them the greatest opportunity. Since a casino opened on the Gulf of Mexico in Biloxi in 1992, 20 casinos have opened on the Gulf or the Mississippi River. Forty-eight more licenses are pending.

Anonymous said...

8:37 - Nothing you posted quotes any legislative committee, any governor, any House Speaker, any Senate leader or any state government official of any type. What you've provided is the drivel dreamed up by the Orley Hoods, Sid Salters, Bill Minors and Charlie Mitchells of the day - All talking out their ass and none having any authority or knowledge to do so.

Please come back when you can cite a reference from a committee, bill or floor discussion.

Anonymous said...

moving goal posts

"I know for sure nobody in government every proposed that legalized gaming would fund education."

Anonymous said...

"....casinos are being touted...."

Similar to 'sources say' and 'according to reports'.

Kingfish said...

Or "the Internet is outraged at"

Anonymous said...

The casinos do fund schools. Ever wonder why Harrison and Hancock have some of the nicest schools outside of Madison County? 4% goes to local, and a portion is earmarked for schools.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile; other social media venues are today highlighting the fact that Hyde-Smith and Wicker both voted against a balanced budget and the bill sponsored by Rand Paul which was said to be a conservative, republican measure. There's no place on this blog to point that out so maybe Kingfish will start a new thread about our new congressperson and her votes. I realize, though, that the paid advertisements rule as do Bryant's incessant promotions of the rodeo-gal, so this will get no coverage.

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