× Gambling News In-Depth iGaming Calendar Connections GI Friday Trafficology GI Magazine
GGA 2019 AffiliateCon
IN-DEPTH 17 September 2018
Legalised gambling: An introduction to Mississippi
With regulated sports betting now in full swing, Islam Soliman profiles Mississippi’s historical relationship with legalised betting.
By Islam Soliman

When you think about Mississippi and gambling, images of elegant riverboat casinos sailing along the coast immediately come to mind. For most of its recent history, gambling has not been commonplace. Nowadays, gamblers have a variety of different choices when it comes to fulfilling their gambling needs. They can enjoy legal gambling at land-based casinos, riverboat casinos, tribal casinos, poker rooms and bingo halls.

Recently, Mississippi legislators opened the door to state-sanctioned sports betting after the Supreme Court repealed the terms of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Before we examine the state’s gambling market, we have to go back in time to see how this pastime has evolved.


The history of Mississippi’s gambling and casinos can be traced back to the late 1700s. Back then, before Mississippi was officially proclaimed a state, racetracks existed and wagers were placed on races. Even though the racetrack was created by early French settlers, it’s clear to see the state’s early history involved gambling.

By the 19th century, riverboat gambling became one of the most popular forms of gaming within the state. At the time, over 100 different riverboats offered entertainment and gambling games. Through the 19th century, riverboat casinos continued to grow and become more popular, but there were many stories regarding cheating.

Towards the end of the 1800s, the Civil War brought an end to all forms of gambling in the state. Significant change did not arrive for over a century, when the Mississippi Gaming Control Act of 1990 was passed. This act saw the boom of casinos and riverboat casinos in counties along the Mississippi River and on the coast.


Two years after Mississippi signed the Gaming Control Act, an agreement between the state government and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) allowed for the existence of slots and table games in the state. There are now approximately 35 casinos operating in the state, although many of them were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Thirteen years later, the prospects for the casino industry in Mississippi continue to look optimistic after the repeal of PASPA in May. The casino industry in Mississippi looks vastly different today when compared with how it looked after Hurricane Katrina. Before the disaster, land-based casinos were not permitted and all private casinos had to operate from a boat. The hurricane forced the government to quickly change the law and allow traditional land-based casinos to be built near the shores of Mississippi. All of these changes have been made to help revive the casino industry.


Tunica, MS, is one the most popular gambling destinations in the south. Tunica is the third largest gaming venue in the US. Two of the most prominent gaming companies in the world – MGM Resorts and Caesars – have several operations in Mississippi. The state is a major gambling locale in the US and will continue to grow in the coming years.

IS ONLINE GAMBLING LEGAL? When it comes to online betting, Mississippi only allows daily fantasy sports and games of skill. There are several offshore betting sites that offer their online services to residents in Mississippi, but the state law indicates that even if a gambling site is permitted in some jurisdictions, it is not legal within Mississippi.

Online sites may state that they are licensed in other countries, but it is illegal to place a bet with these businesses. However, there are some games that do not fall under Mississippi’s definition of gambling. One website that is permitted within the state is The site offers a wide variety of skill-only games, such as scrabble, where people can play against other people for real money.


Poker is one of the most popular forms of betting in the state. Most of the state’s casinos host a poker room and major tournament organisers such as the World Series of Poker usually attract a high number of players. However, it is considered an offence to partake in social poker games and the state does not approve any sort of online poker for real money.

It’s difficult to predict whether online poker games will be permitted in the state, but it’s clear to see that they are interested in introducing poker online. Even though four bills out of the last five years have been rejected, it seems only a matter of time before we see another serious push for online poker in the state.


Sports betting is now legal at casinos in Mississippi, after the state moved fast to regulate following the PASPA repeal. Under these regulations, sports betting may only be offered to licensed casinos that have received approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. With these new rules approved by the Commission, wagers can only be placed by customers at the casino. The regulation also states that customers can use their mobile phones to place bets, but only if they are physically present at the casino.


The market officially opened on 1 August, when two casinos owned by MGM, the Beau RivageResort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, held simultaneous events at 12pm PT. Commenting on the new sports betting regulation in June, MBCI Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said: “These newly-approved regulations will allow the resort to remain on the forefront of the gambling market as well as provide additional revenue streams to the tribe.”


Nowadays, there are many different gambling options, but at the same time the state is also very limited when it comes to offering residents online gambling and lottery betting. Despite early attempts at regulating online gambling and online poker games, Mississippi remains a traditional state. However, after the state’s legalisation of sports betting, it seems as though it is beginning to embrace new reforms.
IN-DEPTH 4 September 2019
Virtual reality: Creating next-gen experiences for players

Singular CEO George Shamugia discusses a new revenue stream for casino operators

The competition in online gaming is intensifying, with players becoming more and more demanding. In some markets, single-customer acquisition costs can reach up to €400 ($440) alongside growing churn rates. Furthermore, the online gaming sector struggles to attract one of the most lucrative groups of players – millennials. The experience provided by casinos no longer appeals to the younger generation.

On  the other hand, the video gaming industry perfectly understands the needs of millennials and by introducing elements of luck in their games offers the best of both worlds. With the launch of loot box systems and Grand Theft Auto’s in-game casino, we have seen their first successful steps in targeting the online gaming sector. GTA V online, with 33 million active players, recently opened an in-game casino, where players gamble real money on games such as poker, roulette, slots, etc. As a result, churn users returned and GTA Online reached the highest number of active players since its launch in 2013.

The online gaming industry has almost fully utilised the potential of the mobile medium. The time has come to look for new, innovative ways of delivering a next-gen experience to customers.

The potential of VR

Could the next big thing for online gaming be a fully fledged virtual reality (VR) casino delivering an immersive experience and limitless new opportunities?

Although not widely adopted yet, VR has a sizable number of customers. Analysts predict it’s poised for explosive growth to become mainstream in about five years. According to market intelligence firms, the VR market will be worth $117bn by 2022, and according to Juniper Research bets made through VR will reach $520 billion by 2021. Upcoming 5G mobile network technology will propel VR’s mass adoption by allowing the development of fully portable untethered and affordable VR headsets.

Different level of social interaction

The captivating nature of gambling comes from its social aspect. Unfortunately, personal interaction is widely missing from online gambling sites. VR technology creates multiple opportunities to bring back and even enhance that social moment. The ability to connect with other players is one of the main reasons behind Fortnite’s popularity. This form of co-experience is the next generation of entertainment. Research conducted by Facebook has found participants spend more time on VR compared to any other medium. This directly translates into increased profits for casinos.

Pokerstars has made efforts in this direction by implementing Voice UI. Instead of using hand controllers to make a call, pass, or raise, players give voice commands.

Another opportunity for bringing in the social element are the players’ avatars. They enable players to build their identity reflected in the avatars’ appearance, but also the avatar's social, competitive and community status. For instance, players are willing to pay real money for virtual drinks at the bar. Operators can offer these social touchpoints for free to VIP customers as an act of appreciation.

VR also brings a new dimension to customer support. Customer support can also be represented with avatars to assist the player in person. The social moment increases the LTV of players and contributes towards lower churn rates.

Rethinking game design

VR is a way more capable medium than a 2D mobile or desktop screen. Instead of copying the existing online experience, games must be redesigned from the ground up for a competitive advantage with VR. For example, a VR slot game can become fully immersive by teleporting the user into the slots’ world of Ancient Egypt. Next, enrich the experience with high-fidelity graphics, realistic spatial sounds and animations. When betting on virtual race cars, the user can be teleported inside the car he/she made a bet on and experience the race firsthand.

New revenue streams

VR casino lobbies create new revenue stream opportunities: ad placement of brands on the venue walls, company logos decorating the bar etc. This kind of branding is not intrusive in the VR space and feels natural from the user's perspective. VR also gives users the ability to change venues from a Las Vegas casino today, to Macau or even Mars casino, the very next day. The dynamic and diverse experience increases retention rates.

The majority of profits for online gaming operators come from their high-roller players. Although they represent a small subset of active players, an operator can launch a separate VR casino brand for them. Providing exclusive VR gaming experiences to high rollers/VIPs, the operator can minimise churn and maximise VR efforts for these player demographics.

The catch with VR is to focus on quality, rather than scale. The target audience might be limited yet, once these players experience it, they will become ambassadors for your offering.

Surely, the opportunities and possibilities offered by the VR medium truly exceed anything offered by mobile and desktop. VR is a new frontier not just for gaming but for every industry, and it’s exciting to see where it takes the industry and what kind of innovation it brings upon us.