When one thinks of casinos and gambling in the United States, the state of Mississippi does not necessarily come to mind. While there are countless tales of riverboat gambling on the Mississippi River, those tales originate in the 19th century, far from the modern-day. As time moved into the 20th and subsequently the 21st centuries, casinos and gambling in Mississippi disappeared almost entirely.
Fortunately, a revival of sorts has taken place in recent years. This revival has made Mississippi one of the top Southern states as far as casinos are concerned. Moving forward, we feel as though this state is going to be the model for how other Southern states are going to tackle the prospect of casino gambling and the legalization process of it all.
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IP Casino Resort Spa
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The Magnolia State isn’t exactly a gambler’s dream come true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that local gambling enthusiasts have no betting options available to them. Mississippi offers several tribal, commercial and riverboat-based casinos, which give you an excellent opportunity to play your favorite slots or table games.
Nevertheless, pari-mutuel betting isn’t available, the state doesn’t have a lottery and there’s no local online gambling industry, which means that iGaming enthusiasts are essentially forced to stick to playing on offshore sites.
Mississippi, both the river and the state, are synonymous with riverboats and riverboat casinos – MS was the third state in the U.S. to legalize riverboat gambling. These days, the casinos situated in Mississippi are far less river-oriented and more Vegas-style in their size and offered amenities.
Mississippi is home to more than 30 fully operational commercial casinos, with nine of them located in the city of Tunica. After Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Tunica is the third most visited city in America by gaming tourists.
The law states that all casinos must be on navigable waterways, but following the destruction along the coast in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, an 800-foot setback was approved for the casinos in need of reconstruction.
Unless otherwise noted, most casinos in Mississippi are open 24 hours a day and offer slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, and three-card poker. Some casinos also feature baccarat, pai gow, and poker.
In addition to the commercial establishments, the Mississippi band of the Choctaw Indians operates three casinos that are all part of the Pearl River Resort. Those properties are:
You must be 21 years or older to play at one of Mississippi’s casinos.
Online casinos are illegal.
A large majority of Mississippi casinos are of the riverboat variety. Though back in the 19th century a riverboat casino was, quite literally, traversing the waters of the Mississippi River, nowadays the story is changed entirely. Almost all of the riverboat casinos that exist today are docked or otherwise attached to solid ground. Even the riverboat casinos operating on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico are docked and not setting sail anytime soon.
In addition to the casino floor, many of these riverboats also host restaurants, entertainment, and so much more.
As their name implies, tribal casinos are casinos owned and operated by Native American tribes. Though, on their face, they will look and feel like traditional land-based casinos, underneath it all is a story stemming back to the 1980s. At this time, a Federal Act was passed that made it possible for Native Americans to offer casino-style gambling.
Other than the fact that they are able to exist by way of Federal Act, there is really no difference between tribal casinos and the land-based ones found all over the state.
Sports betting is now legal in Mississippi, and casinos across the state are racing to add sportsbooks to their gaming space.
The first bets in the state were placed on August 1, 2018, and the first two casinos to take those wagers were The Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica.
Within a month, the tribal casinos were also accepting bets, and each month more casinos are joining the list of operating sportsbooks.
In the first month of legal betting, more than $10 million was wagered on sports.
Sports betting is only legal inside Mississippi casinos, which makes the age requirement 21 years or older.
Online sports betting is illegal.
In 2016, Mississippi enacted a one-year temporary law legalizing daily fantasy sports, which was turned into permanent legalization in 2017. DFS companies can operate in Mississippi under the following conditions:
Daily fantasy sports are legal both online and at brick-and-mortar casinos in the state.
Although sports betting is legal in Mississippi, the operating sportsbooks do not accept eSports wagers.
Live horse racing and simulcast off-track betting were illegal in Mississippi before sports betting was legalized. There is no live racing in the state, but Mississippi casinos can now take bets on both horse and greyhound races.
While off-track betting is now legal in Mississippi, it is not yet available – the sportsbooks are waiting to determine if customer demand is high enough.
Because pari-mutuel wagers can only be offered at casinos, bettors will need to be 21 years or older.
There is no live greyhound racing available in Mississippi.
Because the state houses so many commercial and tribal casinos, there is an abundance of poker rooms that feature regular tournaments and a wide variation of poker.
The Beau Rivage in Biloxi hosts a monthly $50,000 guarantee tournament, the Pearl River Resort holds its own Ante Up Poker Tour, and the World Series of Poker Circuit makes an annual stop at the IP Casino in Biloxi.
You must be 21 to play in one of Mississippi’s poker rooms.
Home poker games are not addressed in Mississippi law, and there is no record of anyone being prosecuted for hosting poker in their private residence.
Online poker is illegal.
Mississippi is home to the newest lottery in the United States – the law that brought it to life was signed by Governor Phil Bryant on August 31, 2018.
Along with Keno and scratch-off games (expected to be available for purchase by the summer of 2019), players 18 years or older can play the following draw games:
To cash in a winning ticket worth $600 or more, the holder of the ticket must present proof of their social security number as well as photo identification.
Along with the casinos in the state that house bingo halls and host regular bingo games, Mississippi law makes a charitable gaming exception that allows qualified non-profit organizations to apply for a license and host bingo for fundraising purposes.
You can find a legal charitable bingo game in more than 40 Mississippi cities.
As was mentioned previously, the history of Mississippi gambling and casinos can be traced back to the late 1700s. Back then, before Mississippi was even officially declared a state, there was a racetrack there where wagers were placed on many hundreds of races. The racetrack was put in place by French settlers, but it is clear to see that the state’s early history definitely involved gambling.
By the turn of the 19th century, riverboat gambling became the dominant gambling medium in the state. Well over 100 different riverboats were operating the waters of the Mississippi at any given time. Though there are plenty of tall tales regarding great casino cheats and plenty of other unscrupulous activity, this was clearly not too big of an issue seeing as the riverboat gambling industry thrived throughout the first half of the 19th century. Towards the end of the 1800s, the Civil War brought about a somewhat abrupt halt to any and all gambling in the state.
After the Civil War and as the 1900s dawned, the state of Mississippi began to take a bit more of a restrictive stance to most forms of gambling. By the 1930s, slot games and pinball games were outlawed by state law. For the next 50 years, most forms of gambling remained outlawed. The tide began to change a bit in the 1990s thanks to the passing of the Mississippi Gaming Control Act of 1990.
This Act made riverboat casinos in counties along the Mississippi River and on the coast legal so long as the local citizenry approved of them. Only 2 years after that, an agreement between the state government and Choctaw Native Americans allowed for the existence of slots and table games at the many tribal gaming halls located throughout the state. Since then, the casino landscape of Mississippi has remained somewhat the same. Though the laws surrounding the existence of casinos in the state are interesting in that they allow for only riverboat and Native American casinos, you can rest assured knowing that there is no shortage of gambling options in just about every part of the state, but especially along the banks of the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.