Odds are displayed on a screen at a sports book in Las Vegas. Twenty one of Mississippi’s 28 casinos now offer betting on sports, with more expected to follow.

Mississippi’s first full month of wagering on sporting events generated $660,000 in revenue for the state’s highways and bridges.

Kathy Waterbury, a spokesperson for the Department Revenue, said Mississippi casinos saw customers wager $5.5 million on sporting events, resulting in $660,000 in revenue for the state.

Mississippi was one of the first states to allow sports book betting after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law earlier this year that essentially prohibited sports wagering on sporting events in all states except Nevada. Estimates of how much revenue would be generated for the state from sports wagering varied greatly, with some estimating as much as $35 million, but most officials conceding it would be less than $10 million annually.

In August, a few of the state’s 28 casinos were offering opportunities to wager on sporting events and it generated $54,000 in revenue for the state. With 21 of the 28 casinos now offering wagering on sporting events, the total shot up dramatically in September. It is likely that in the coming months additional Mississippi casinos will be taking bets on sporting events.

In an August special session, legislators opted to earmark the sports book betting revenue for state highway and bridge maintenance, as well as revenue generated from a lottery that was approved in the same special session. Any lottery revenue above $80 million annually will be used for education purposes.

After 10 years, the lottery and sports betting revenue – according to the bill passed by legislators in the special session – will divert from transportation to the general fund to be divvied up by education, public health, law enforcement and other services.

It is estimated that it will take at least a year to enact a lottery in the state.

Overall, state revenue collections for the general fund for the month of September were slightly up, according to the monthly revenue report released by the staff of the Legislative Budget Committee.

Through September, the third month of the fiscal year, revenue collections are up $22.1 million or 1.83 percent over collections for the same period last year. Collections are $45.4 million or 3.8 percent above the official estimate that legislators used during the 2018 session to craft the current budget.

If revenue falls below the estimate, the governor and or the Legislature must make mid-year budget cuts or dip into the state’s reserve funds.

Almost all revenue categories, ranging from sales tax to income tax to casino gambling taxes are up year over year. The noticeable exception is the corporate tax revenue, which is down $4.6 million or 4.8 percent for the first three months of the current fiscal year.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.