Casino sports betting is a reality in Mississippi. I saw it with my own eyes, veering back over through Biloxi on a weekend pleasure trip to New Orleans.
What I saw would make some of my bookie friends sick to their stomachs, although it has been a long, long time since they ate, God rest their souls. At Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, well-heeled customers were walking right up to the counter and betting hundreds and thousands of dollars on the outcome of sporting events.
They weren’t speaking in hushed voices. They weren’t using code names. They weren’t using codes to say how much they were betting. In other words, if they wanted to wager 100 dollars, they just said they wanted to bet one hundred dollars. They didn’t say “a dime” instead.
They weren’t worried about wiretaps on their phones. Heck, they weren’t using phones. They weren’t worried about the feds or the locals breaking through the door and busting up the business. The casino workers just calmly accepted your money, gave you a receipt and said with a smile, “Good luck.”
Now, you and I might wonder how the great State of Mississippi can allow legal sports gambling, but still say a firm “No” to a lottery. But that’s not the point today. I just want to give you an idea what you could have bet on this past weekend if you wanted to do so. And that is: Just about anything.
You could bet on the first week of college football. Texas Tech is a 1.5-point favorite over Ole Miss. Miami is a 3-point favorite over LSU. Bama is a 25.5-point favorite over Louisville. And so on. (There is no betting line on Jackson-State-Southern Miss or Stephen F. Austin-Mississippi State. Just remember you have to bet $11 to win $10. That extra 10 percent is called “the vigorish” or simply “the vig.” That’s the casino’s take. Hey, how do you think they built these palaces and planted big trees indoors anyway?
If you were a USM or State fan and wanted to place a bet on your favorite team, you certainly could. You could bet the over and under on how many games they will win this season. The number on Ole Miss is six. You could bet on Ole Miss to win more than six games this season. If you bet on Ole Miss, the Rebels have to win seven or more for you to win. If they win six, you push or break even. If they win five or fewer, you lose. The number on USM is 6.5. There are no pushes. You either win or lose. The number on State is eight. For what it’s worth, I like all three to cover.
The number on Alabama is 11. In other words, if you want to bet on Alabama’s season, the Crimson Tide would have to run the table and go 12-0 for you to win money.
We are only getting started. You could have bet any Major League baseball game Sunday. You could have bet on who’s going to win the World Series. Braves fan? Your team began the season at 100 to1 odds to win it all. As of Sunday, that was down to 15 to 1. But if you really believe in them, you could wager $100 and still win $1500. The Braves at least are making progress in the eyes of oddsmakers. Consider the lowly Texas Rangers who began the season at 25 to 1 and have dropped to 1000 to 1.
You could have bet the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen Sunday. Martin Truex was the 3 to 1 favorite. In other words, if you bet 100 bucks on Truex to win and he did, you would win $300. He did not win. Kurt Busch, at 15 to 1, was the winner. If you bet $100 on Busch, you won $1500. Unfortunately, I did not.
You could even bet who is going to win next year’s NBA Championship or Stanley Cup. Go ahead. Just make sure someone knows where your betting ticket is. That’s a long time to wait. Stuff could happen.
You could bet U.S. Open Tennis. You could bet who’s going to win this week’s PGA Championship. Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods are the favorites at 12 to 1. Tiger? Really? You ask me, Patrick Reed is a much better bargain at 30 to 1.
So, you ask, did I bet? Did I make personal history and make a legal bet in Mississippi? Well, yes. I bet the Saints to win the Super Bowl. The odds were 15 to 1 against. I’m gonna be rich.
Email syndicated columnist Rick Cleveland, rcleveland@mississippitoday.