Mississippi Sports

Could Texas Sports Bettor Put Mississippi’s Industry In The Red With Astros Win?

The sixth game of the 2019 World Series takes place tonight, with the Houston Astros leading 3-2 over the Washington Nationals. The game will be held in Texas.

You’ve probably heard of a fella who is commonly referred to as “Mattress Mack” (real name: James McIngvale), who is betting heaps of money on the outcome of the Series. Mack reportedly now has about $12 mm on the line on the so-called fall classic, all in an effort to hedge against a rebate promotion at his furniture chain in Texas. He stands to win about $22 mm, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

He started betting on the Astros weeks ago to hedge on the promotion that will see him fork over free stuff to customers with an Astros victory. It appears he will be content with any outcome, but reports indicate he’s still rooting for his hometown team. He’s reportedly also been wagering on individual games.

He’s been dubiously dubbed “America’s favorite sports bettor” by at least one gambling-content site. No knock on Mack, who is giving the sports betting world some positive press, but it’s just hard to call him a sports bettor in the strictest sense of the word because he’s hedging on a business promotion and the seven-figure bets are in turn serving as a promotion of his furniture business.

Oh how quickly we forgot about “Jeopardy James” Holzhauer!

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Pure-blood sports bettors surely can’t be thrilled with Mack being “America’s favorite sports bettor” — especially sharps, or pro sports bettors, who sometimes struggle with some regulated sportsbooks restricting the sizes of their wagers because they are skilled. Sharp betting restrictions have been one of the more controversial elements of the nascent U.S. regulated sports wagering industry so far.

Mack’s highly publicized wagers are giving some sportsbooks/casinos a chance to boost their respective brands in an increasingly competitive national market for legal sports betting. Meanwhile, they are preventing others from betting even three-figure amounts on games.

In an apparent effort to bet as much money as he can, Mack has been traveling across the country to gamble. He’s made wagers in Nevada, New Jersey, and Mississippi.

Impact on Mississippi’s market

New Jersey reported $445.6 mm in total sports wagering handle for September, a new Garden State record for a single month. Whatever Mack bet in New Jersey is relatively insignificant. Same goes for the Nevada sports wagering industry. Nevada saw $571 mm in handle in September 2018.

However, Mississippi, thanks to no online/mobile books, pales in comparison to NJ and NV. The state saw just $37.8 mm in handle last month, which generated $5.6 mm in taxable revenue.

According to reports, Mack has bet $4.6 mm in total in Mississippi. The DraftKings-branded retail sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl Casino was the one giving him the action. DraftKings has deep pockets.

Should the Astros win, his multimillion-dollar payout in the Magnolia State would put a major dent into the state’s market this month. Football is in full swing in October, so it’s unlikely the Astros winning tonight or in Game 7 would put the industry in the red, but it could be very close.

However, if Mississippi casinos run poorly with NFL and college football betting this month, it could be a negative month for the state’s retail sportsbooks. It would be an unusual occurrence. For some context, Nevada’s sports betting industry hasn’t had a month in the red since 2013 — and it may never happen again.

The Scarlet Pearl Casino, of course, is rooting for the Nationals, but it’s already received some free advertising that surely helps offset the potential loss.

Photo by Brad Mills / USA Today Sports

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