Legal sports betting went live in Mississippi back on August 1, making it the third state to launch regulated bet shops since the U.S. Supreme Court rescinded a federal ban on the industry in May.
But the Magnolia State isn’t done making history just yet, as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians recently became the first tribe outside of Nevada to accept legal sports wagers.
The first tribal organization in America to offer sports betting was the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe – owner and operator of the Avi Resort and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada – which secured a sports betting license in the Silver State in 2012.
After the Choctaw Gaming Commission (CGC) approved sports betting regulations, the tribe’s Golden Moon Casino at Pearl River Resort – located in the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi – opened its doors on August 30.
In a press release issued to announce the grand opening, Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson celebrated the Choctaw’s status as the first tribe outside of Nevada to offer legal sports betting:
“We’re very excited to be one of the very first tribal gaming facilities to offer traditional sports wagering.
Our guests can now bet on all professional league sports and major collegiate sporting events on our property.”
Sonny Johnson – the interim president & chief operating officer for Pearl River Resort – echoed those sentiments in the press release.
“Being a part of such a historical moment is a significant achievement for Pearl River Resort and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
We are also excited to be the first tribal owned and operated sportsbook outside the state of Nevada. The Sportsbook is another great gaming addition for our guests to enjoy on our gaming floor.
What sets our Sportsbook apart is that we have a dedicated room for our guests to place their bets on a wide variety of sporting events.”
Located within a newly renovated space, the Pearl River Resort sportsbook features 20 TV screens, 12 betting boards with video displays showing odds, and three walk-up betting windows.
Two days after launching their first sportsbook, the Choctaw tribe opened a second venue at its Bok Homa Casino in the town of Heidelberg.
The Bok Homa sportsbook is home to 13 TV screens and a single betting window.
The first two sportsbooks opened by the Choctaw tribe are currently limited to brick and mortar operations, but Mississippi law does allow for mobile and online wagering.
Neal Atkinson – who serves as director of table games, poker sportsbook and bingo operations for Golden Moon – told the local Meridian Star newspaper that while betting would begin with brick and mortar operations, onsite mobile capabilities were on the way:
“We anticipate adding account-based mobile wagering on the premises – and I have to stress the ‘on the premises’ part.’
You will have to be there for it to work.
That way, people will be able to place money on a wagering account with their phone or tablet anywhere on casino property.”
Atkinson also revealed that staff members at both facilities were buzzing about the books’ grand openings:
“Everyone is super excited about it.
Everyone’s asking questions, and everyone is ready for it to open next Thursday.
There’s so much excitement and engagement, and everyone on the property is anticipating the opening.”
According to Atkinson, the Pearl River Resort will be hiring between 12 and 15 additional employees to staff the sportsbook.