Casino Gambling

Ready for the first weekend of SEC football? Here’s what Coast casinos have planned.

It’s a trifecta that combines Labor Day Weekend, the kick-off of Southeastern Conference football and the first season fans can legally bet on their teams outside of Las Vegas.

“We’re expecting business at The Book to be brisk all weekend long,” said Todd Raziano, general manager of Hard Rock Casino Biloxi.

Unless you’re going to Sunday’s game in Arlington, Texas, he said, the next best place to watch the LSU Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes is at Hard Rock. The party will have cheerleaders, pom-poms and a champion LSU and Saints wide receiver to watch the game.

Hard Rock is among 11 Coast casinos offering sports betting on the Coast. It’s the first to offer big event that coincides with a sporting event. Other casinos are featuring concerts, giveaways and an all-you-can-eat lobster and crab buffet as sports betting ramps up.

Close to the action

Since sports betting began in Mississippi on Aug. 1, most of the bets have been on baseball and futures for who will win the Super Bowl.

“We think this will be the first real test this weekend,” said John Ferrucci, general manager at Silver Slipper Casino, which is near the Louisiana border.

The majority of those who have placed bets at Silver Slipper are from Louisiana, he said, and he expects a big crowd of LSU fans.

“The hotel is sold out for the weekend,” he said.

“The LSU game will be on every slot machine in the casino,” he said, since all of the slots are outfitted with a screen.

Getting right in the game

“The Miami and LSU game couldn’t be better for us,” Razinao said. LSU is the only conference game on Sunday and comes while the NFL is still in preseason. It gives Hard Rock the opportunity to highlight both its new sportsbook that opened two weeks ago, he said, and the new iLov305 lounge that Miami rapper Pitbull opened in June.

Tailgating inside Hard Rock starts at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, with stadium food and drink specials. Televised coverage begins at 6 p.m. and the game will be on all the TVs and on the big projection screen over the stage.

The iLov305 dancers will be outfitted as cheerleaders in team colors and during halftime will present their dance routines.

Devery Henderson, a wide receiver who played on both the LSU National Championship team and the Saints Super Bowl XLIV team, will be there to meet fans, sign autographs and watch the game. Sure to come up, Raziano said, are tales of Henderson’s legendary “Bluegrass Miracle,” when in a 2002 game with Kentucky he caught a “Hail Mary” pass to win the game for LSU.

More to come

Other big games this weekend are Saturday’s Ole Miss at Texas Tech at 11 a.m., and Michigan at Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m.

“All of these schools have such a strong fan base,” Raziano said. While this weekend is the first official watch party, Hard Rock and other casinos will be featuring college and pro football all season long, with college games on Saturday and NFL football Sunday along with Monday and Thursday night football.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum rolling right now,” he said, and when Cruisin’ The Coast begins on Sept. 30, he said it will bring a whole new group of fans to introduce to sports betting.

Lobster feast

Hollywood Gulf Coast Casino reopened the lobby bar, which now has five more big-screen TVs to watch the games.

For those who want a Labor Day feast rather than traditional football fare, Hollywood has an all-you-can-eat lobster and crab buffet from 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Sunday brunch. It’s priced at $27.99 with a player’s club card or $29.99 without the card.

Free swag

Golden Nugget is introducing its sports book and celebrating the start of football season with a T-shirt promotion. Those who place a three-team parlay bet for a minimum of $20 on any of this week’s college football games will get one free sports book T-shirt while supplies last.

Other casinos provide guides online to help fans learn how to place a bet. Palace Casino Biloxi combined sports betting with its sports bar to create Contact Lounge and Sports Book and its online wagering menu and wagering guide tell how sports betting works.

Entertainment:

Friday, Aug. 31 — The Clairvoyants at IP Casino Biloxi. This Austrian duo appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2016 and were voted in second place. Tickets start at $29.

Saturday, Sept. 1 — ThirdEye Blind and Filter play a waterfront concert, rain or shine, at The Great Lawn at Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino. General admission tickets are $30 and VIP tickets are available.

Saturday, Sept. 1 — Country soul singer Ronnie Milsap performs at IP Casino. Tickets start at $29.

Saturday, Sept. 1 — Better than Ezra concert at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Tickets start at $14.95

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