A year of historic firsts for daily fantasy sports (DFS) kingpin DraftKings continued today, as the company began doing business at a Mississippi casino at its first brick and mortar sportsbook location.
Three months after launching the first online sportsbook in New Jersey, DraftKings opened the doors to sports betting at Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in the city of D’Iberville, Mississippi.
After the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) approved DraftKings’ license application and other regulatory red tape, Wesley Walls – a former NFL tight end from Batesville, Mississippi who played for 14 seasons with the 49ers, Saints, Panthers, and Packers – placed the ceremonial first wagers on Friday at the Mississippi casino.
Jason Robins, co-founder and chief executive officer of DraftKings, tweeted the following message during the sportsbook’s ribbon cutting ceremony:
“Officially cut the ribbon this morning for (the) DraftKings Sportsbook at Scarlet Pearl here in the great state of Mississippi!
Honored to be alongside such terrific partners for this momentous occasion.
And thank you to the Mississippi Gaming Commission for their support and efforts.”
Matt Kalish, co-founder and chief revenue officer of DraftKings, followed up with a statement pledging to make Scarlet River’s sportsbook one of Mississippi’s finest:
“We’re thrilled to be working with Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, whose leadership has a high bar for quality and a forward-thinking approach to sports betting; a perfect fit for DraftKings.
We’re excited to bring and offer an innovative sports betting experience to sports fans in one of the largest and most competitive gaming markets in the U.S.”
LuAnn Pappas, chief executive officer of the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, offered additional comment on the Mississippi casino’s partnership with DraftKings:
“We are excited to introduce DraftKings, a ‘New Way’ to game for our current and future guests.
Our collaboration with DraftKings is an opportunity for us to continue to set high standards on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and give our players a new home for sports betting.
We’re going to be able to offer a lot of different bets that it would have been very difficult for us to do on own.”
Legal sports betting in Mississippi went live on August 1, with dozens of locations launching across the state since then.
Currently, the DraftKings at Scarlet River Sportsbook facility contains three dedicated betting windows. That selection will eventually be supplemented by online wagering via mobile app – available on casino property only to comply with MGC regulations – along with betting kiosks located throughout the Mississippi casino.
Nicholas “Nico” Sfanos – who previously supervised sportsbook operations for the Station Casinos network in Nevada – has been brought on to direct DraftKings’ operations at Scarlet River.
After the U.S. Supreme Court repealed a federal ban on sportsbooks outside of Nevada in May, DraftKings made its first foray into New Jersey’s newly legalized industry on August 6.
The gamble on Garden State sports betting followed a similar decision by DFS rival FanDuel, which opened a brick and mortar sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in July.
DraftKings’ sportsbook in New Jersey consists of its online platform only, but even so, the site has become an undisputed market leader. Of the $8.84 million in combined sports betting revenue posted across New Jersey’s network of land-based and online sportsbooks, DraftKings contributed the lion’s share at $5.09 million.
The company has had its sights set on operating physical sportsbooks for some time now, having inked a similar deal with the Del Lago Resort & Casino in New York back in July. That partnership is predicated on New York passing legislation regulating the sports betting industry, but when that happens, DraftKings will have the inside track toward implementation.
DraftKings has also applied for a sports betting operator’s license in West Virginia, where the company is currently seeking a licensed gaming entity to serve as its local partner.