Casino Gambling

Mississippi Coast casino is taking a $3.5 million bet on World Series from ‘Mattress Mack’

Imagine showing up at the DraftKings at Scarlet Pearl Sportsbook with a briefcase full of money to bet on your favorite team.

That’s what Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale did Tuesday when he arrived at Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, opened the silver case and plunked down $3.5 million on his beloved Houston Astros to win the World Series this month.

“It’s the biggest bet in the state of Mississippi,” said LuAnn Pappas, CEO of Scarlet Pearl. It’s a record since sports betting went live in the state Aug. 1, 2018.

Dressed in a bright orange No. 2 Astros shirt and a white Division Champion hat, McIngvale thanked the Scarlet Pearl and DraftKings, who he said agreed to take the bet. Scarlet Pearl said in a press release that McIngvale made national headlines with his desire to place the wager, “and no other gaming company sportsbook in the world has come forward to take the wager.”

The sportsbook at Scarlet Pearl was the first DraftKings retail location in the U.S. DraftKings and Scarlet Pearl, whose owners Bob and Delores Granier were there Tuesday, will cover the bet, said Matt Kalish, co-founder and COO of DraftKings.

“The whole halo this has created — that’s an amazing promotion for him,” Kalish said of McIngvale’s bold bet. “Everyone’s talking about it.”

If Houston wins, McIngvale wins $7.7 million for an $11.2 million total payout.

And Houston is favored to win. DraftKings puts the team at +200 favorites to take home the Commissioner’s Trophy.

“When you roll out a starting pitching staff that includes Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, you’re in pretty decent shape,” DraftKings says on its website. “Add in an offense that leads the league in WAR, and you’d be foolish to bet against them.”

McIngvale, 68, isn’t foolish. He was born in Starkville and is known for the over-the-top commercial and promotions for his network of Gallery Furniture stores in the Houston area.

“All of us in Houston believe in the Astros,” he said. If the Astros win, “A lot of customers will get free mattresses,” he said.

He’s tied this wager and the sales of mattresses at his stores to the Astros winning the 2019 World Series. Customers who bought mattresses from him stand to get refunds of $3,000 or more if the team wins, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

He’s purchased insurance to help cover part of the cost of those rebates, the report said, but he also decided to get some serious skin in the game with his seven-figure wager.

The last time the Astros were World Series champs in 2017, it cost him more than $10 million. A lot of people bought a lot of mattresses in this year’s promotion, he said, and the payout will be “Probably a little bit more than last time,” he said.

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.