It’s been three years since the first legal sports bet was placed in Mississippi at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino and as predicted, it’s brought a younger crowd to the Coast casinos.
Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville has seen a much younger customer, said CEO LuAnn Pappas, along with more regional business.
In response, Scarlet Pearl probably will be what she believes is the first casino in South Mississippi to install a cryptocurrency ATM machine, she told members of the Gulf Coast Business Council at the October meeting in Gulfport.
The machines — already in use in Las Vegas — allow customers to convert their crypto coin into cash to use at the casino.
Cryptocurrency is a digital form of currency used to buy goods and services.
Mississippi doesn’t regulate whether a cryptocurrency ATM machines can be operated at a casino, said Jay McDaniel, executive director of Mississippi Gaming Commission.
What the state doesn’t allow yet is using cryptocurrency or a credit card directly in a slot machine, he said.
Going cashless in Mississippi is something the Gaming Commission would consider, he said, if the casino operators requested it.
“COVID has pushed that discussion,” McDaniel said.
Resorts World Las Vegas opened this summer with a cashless casino floor and cashless payments for restaurants, shops and entertainment.
Will it happen in Mississippi?
“It’s really up to the operators at this point,” McDaniel said.
WHY TECHNOLOGY IS KEY
Other casino operators are looking at upgrading technology to match the way young customers do business with the casino industry, said Jonathan Jones, general manager of Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi.
Jones said millennials are accustomed to using their credit cards or mobile wallets and apps to pay for everything, and getting cash out to play at the casino takes time and can be a burden. They’re also more likely to use services at casinos that require tipping, which can usually only be done with cash right now.
“If you want to play table games at one of our properties, and you’re a millennial without cash, you go to the ATM first. That takes 90 seconds,” he said. “Then you go to the table game, you give them their your cash, they count it, they get someone to verify the count. Then they give you our currency — the chips.”
When they are done playing, he said, they get a different color chip, which they take to the cage and get cash back.
“While consumers have been accustomed to making mobile payments or using cards for nearly all other goods and services, land-based casino gaming has remained primarily dependent on cash transactions,” the American Gaming Association said in its State of the States 2020 report.
Other technology also is coming for younger players, Jones said, including a terminal that will allow players to watch a live sporting event, get odds for the games and play blackjack and video poker at the same time.
WILL MOBILE SPORTS BETTING COME TO MISSISSIPPI?
Mobile sports betting allows fans to place a bet from their computer or smart phone within states that allow it.
In September, New Jersey became the first state to take in more than $1 billion in bets in a single month at the casino sports books and on computers and phones.
Mississippi Coast casinos took in $39 million in wagers in September, with $22 million of that bet on football. The total for the state was $54.8 million.
Mississippi was the fourth state to legalize and open sports betting, but has yet to allow mobile betting.
“That would be up to the Legislature,” said McDaniel.
While betting by phone inside a Mississippi casino is allowed, only one casino — Gold Strike in Tunica — is allowing customers to bet with their app in the casino.
In September, the BetMGM mobile app became available for download in Mississippi. Using geolocation technology, customers at Gold Strike can place pre-game, live in-play, futures and parlay wagers from any mobile device.
Tennessee, which has no casinos but does permit online sports betting, had a record $257 million in wagers in September.
Louisiana now has mobile sports betting in parishes where the wagering is allowed.
Jones said Mississippi is “a little behind on mobile. We’re working on that.”
“We’re a lot behind,” Pappas countered.
Sports betting is very popular in Mississippi, Jones said, and its appeal and revenue are increasing. Once mobile wagering is allowed, he said, casinos need to make sure the experience is right so customers will want to go casinos for “a fully immersive experience.”