Casinos in state now taking sports bets

Caleb Youngblood
Sports Editor

Mississippi sports fans rejoice! After 25 long years, you can now legally gamble on your favorite teams in your own state.

Mississippi is the first state outside of Nevada to allow bets on in-state college sports, which means that people can place wagers on any college team in the state, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi.

May 4, 2018, marked a new day in sports history as the United States Supreme Court chose to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which outlawed sports gambling nationwide, with only a few states excepted. The state of Mississippi’s Gaming Commission anticipated this might happen and quietly changed the state’s rules regarding sports betting in 2017 when it changed state laws legalizing and regulating fantasy sports betting. That paved the way for a quick entry into legal sports betting, which officially began in the state on Aug. 7.

Now, both college and professional games can legally be gambled on, although bets must be placed within casinos.

Student athletes and anyone associated with a sports program are still not allowed to participate because of potential conflict of interests. With this in mind, we turn to sports fans to get their opinions on this major change.

“I think this could be extremely beneficial,” said Shay Boyd, a 20-year-old former student athlete prospect from Columbus, Miss. “College sports is a huge marketing place that brings a lot of revenue to a lot of schools.

“Although people have been betting illegally for years, I think that now it can bring even more revenue to the schools because it is legal.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board estimated that betting on collegiate sports brought in more than $4.8 billion with the Nevada sports books in 2017. The NCAA basketball tournament made up $300 million of this money. It is estimated that anywhere from $150 billion to $300 billion was gambled upon illegally. Out of that money, $10 billion is considered to have been for the NCAA tournament.

“I think that this will benefit a lot of states now, versus just those states that were excluded,” said Kash Ellison, 24-year-old Mechanical Engineering major at Mississippi State University. “The amount of money that could be generated legally from this could really help the economic status of different states.”

Now that gambling can be done legally, some people say they feel more connected and involved.

“I think it’s great for college sports,” said Tyler Ferguson, 20-year-old junior
Communication major at Mississippi University for Women. “Betting on games brings an entirely new audience to collegiate sports.”

Various concerns and discussions have arisen since the state announced plans to allow sports betting. One consistent debate is whether or not student athletes should be paid from some of this gambling revenue.

“I had the opportunity to be a college athlete [for baseball],” said Boyd. “I knew generally what it would take. You don’t have a lot of time for a job — your life is that sport.

“I think that there should be some type of allowance for these players. The state could even take some of that money and pay D1 athletes a certain amount every month.”

Ellison offers a different point of view.

“NFL players get paid because that’s their career,” said Ellison. “Gambling is a completely different entity. I don’t think student athletes should get paid for their games, because their payment is the scholarships that they earn.”

The NCAA plans to work with the states and bookies to properly regulate the money. Improvements are expected to be made in the process as the use of gambling progresses from these early stages.