The first day of legal sports books in Biloxi went exactly as you’d expect.
At the Imperial Palace Casino’s new sports book, each sport has its own betting sheet, and the sheets, stacked neatly in baskets for prospective bettors with corresponding labels: NFL, college football, MLB, golf, tennis, NASCAR.
One basket is different. It is labeled not by sport but by conference, the three letters recognizable to anyone ’round here, as they might say: S-E-C. “They don’t have these in Vegas,” says George Cole, the Imperial Palace’s sports book director. “SEC football—it’s where the action is here.”
… For now, the sports book will have to do. And that’s O.K. at the Hard Rock, where Schenk says they’ve seen a 15% uptick in foot traffic since opening their book. Next door at the Beau Rivage, the second set of college games is winding down, and it’s still packed, with nearly every seat occupied and a standing-room crowd encircling the venue, each craning their necks to see one of the eight games on the 24 televisions, many of them in college football apparel—a camouflage LSU hat, an Ole Miss wind-breaker, a Michigan T-shirt, a Texas visor. They were all here for a historic day: to, legally, bet on this region’s religion.
“The South,” says Schenk, “they love their SEC, love their college football.”
There’s an SEC promo just dying to happen. I give Sankey a couple of years before he green-lights it.