BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s been a slow start for the first pitch of Major League Baseball in 2020, but the return of athletics has local casinos excited.
“We’ve been starving for this to happen,” said Rob Portwood, manager of The Book sportsbook. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, to get sports back for our guests to bet on.”
The pandemic has caused major changes across the country, gambling establishments included. The guests who visit Portwood and his staff at Harrah’s Gulf Coast have had to rely on other sports to put their money on.
“We’ve had soccer, UFC, NASCAR golf. We’ve even seen the handle on all those sports grow. People have really been wanting to bet and have something to bet on,” Portwood said.
There hasn’t been a decrease in visitors coming to the resort despite the outbreak.
“We haven’t seen a decrease in our guest volume on property,” said Harrah’s Director of Human Resources Brooke Robbins. “In fact, in June, we welcomed 19 charters onto the Gulf Coast.”
The Beau Rivage also saw some action ahead of New York Yankees playing the Washington Nationals. A $10,000 bet was placed on the Yankees beating the defending champions, which is the type of activity local sportsbooks are preparing for in the near future.
The New Orleans Pelicans will begin in Orlando playing against the Utah Jazz on July 30, which sportsbooks say will increase business. The main focus is on the Labor Day weekend when the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL will all be available for bets at the same time, which is something that has not happened before.
“We expect interest level to be through the roof,” Portwood said.
Harrah’s also said that safety is the main priority for visitors looking to place bets, and the staff at The Book will be willing to teach newcomers interested in learning how to bet on sports.
“We just explain it really well, patiently, and make sure it’s something that they are comfortable with,” Portwood said.