Gaming News

Southern Gaming’s Road to the Derby Race Report

DerbyFirstTurn_CourtesyofChurchillDowns, Inc.

The 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby is determined by which horses earn the most points in selected “Point Races” leading up to the first Saturday in May. The top 20 point earners will compete on the first Saturday in May for the coveted garland of red roses, and a $2 million purse too!


Below is Southern Gaming’s snapshot of the current Top 5 contenders based on points, upcoming races, and expert outlooks for who we might see in the Kentucky Derby winners circle. Enjoy!




Current Top 5 (CLICK HERE for the full points leader board)

  1. International Star (71)
  2. Itsaknockout (50)
  3. Upstart (36)
  4. El Kabeir (25)
  5. War Story (24)


Next Races:

  • Saturday, March 7 – Gotham Stakes – Aqueduct   
    Derby Point Contenders (Current Points):
    Morning Line Mentions:
  • Saturday, March 7 – San Felipe – Santa Anita
    Derby Point Contenders (Current Points):
    Morning Line Mentions:
  • Saturday, March 7 – Tampa Bay Derby – Tampa Bay Downs
    Derby Point Contenders (Current Points):
    Morning Line Mentions:

CLICK HERE to the full points race schedule.

Current Top 5 Derby Picks as of Feb. 23 (Current Points)

Doug Dreisbach (Southern Gaming)

  1. American Pharoah (10)
  2. Upstart (36)
  3. Firing Line (8)
  4. Dortmund (20)
  5. Carpe Diem (14)

Eric Floyd (Southern Gaming Horse racing Expert)

  1. Ocean Knight
  2. Far From Over
  3. American Pharoah (10)
  4. Texas Red (12)
  5. Dortmund (20)

Jennie Rees (Courier-Journal) (CLICK HERE to see her Top 20)

  1. Dortmund (20)
  2. American Pharoah (10)
  3. Carpe Diem (14)
  4. Itsaknockout (50)
  5. Firing Line (8)

Jill Byrne (Churchill Downs) (CLICK HERE to see her Top 20)

  1. American Pharoah (10)
  2. Carpe Diem (14)
  3. Dortmund (20)
  4. The Great War (1)
  5. Upstart (36)

John Asher (Churchill Downs) (CLICK HERE to see his Top 20) 

  1. Carpe Diem (14)
  2. Texas Red (12)
  3. American Pharoah (10)
  4. Dortmund (20)
  5. Firing Line (8)

Now Open! Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica, Mississippi

Gateway to the Blues SignTUNICA, Miss. – The Gateway to the Blues Museum located on the Blues Highway, United States Route 61, in the Mississippi Delta where the Blues began opened today, Thursday, February 19, 2015.

The Gateway to the Blues exhibition represents one of the most important collections of Blues artifacts and memorabilia in the country.  Over seven hundred items help to illuminate the story about the origin and development of blues music in the Mississippi Delta.


“It is with great pleasure that we open the Gateway to the Blues Museum, the first stop outside of Memphis for blues and music tourists looking to experience Mississippi’s musical heritage, today,” said Webster Franklin, President and CEO, Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We will forever be grateful of the generosity of Caesars Entertainment, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Hood of Dundee, Mississippi for making this project a reality.”


The Gateway to the Blues Museum is a significant element in the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau comprehensive visitors services strategy to utilize the cultural and heritage tourism product of Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta region to diversify the overall entertainment offerings in Tunica County, a destination known for its gaming offerings.


The official ribbon cutting for the Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica, Miss.


“The Gateway to the Blues Museum is another great attraction and educational opportunity for Mississippi visitors and residents alike showcasing, blues music, the heart of American music,” said Phil Bryant, Mississippi Governor.


The entrance to the museum is located in a restored train depot that dates back to 1895 and was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Hood. The museum artifacts were originally part of the Blues and Legends Hall of Fame Museum located in the Horseshoe Casino. The artifacts are on loan from Caesars Entertainment, who also donated the land where the museum is located.


The father of the blues, WC Handy’s coronet is just one of the artifacts that can be seen at the Museum.

The father of the blues, WC Handy’s coronet is just one of the artifacts that can be seen at the Museum.

“We are proud to be able to offer these historic artifacts, on behalf of Horseshoe Tunica, representing one of Mississippi’s most valuable and far reaching art forms, blues music, for the enjoyment of visitors to Tunica,” said R. Scott Barber, Regional President, Caesars Mid-South.


The Gateway to the Blues Visitor Center & Museum project was funded in part via a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and Economic Development Initiative Grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Blues legend, Robert Johnson’s, original guitar is on display at the museum.


“Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music, the blues, and this museum is a testament to that rich history,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “The preservation and display of such valuable pieces of Mississippi’s musical legacy is a cultural and educational necessity.”



It is estimated that the new Highway 61 Gateway to the Blues Visitor Center Museum will have visits in excess of 40,000 per year.  By educating these visitors on all Mississippi has to offer, hotel stays, casino visits, and collateral visits to museums throughout the Delta region will be significantly enhanced.


The following attractions are examples, and are not limited to the Mississippi Cultural and Heritage tourism attractions, that the development of the Highway 61 Gateway to the Blues Visitor Center will positively enhance.


Tunica RiverPark                                                   Tunica Museum     

Mississippi Blues Trail                                          Delta Blues Museum

Ground Zero Blues Club                                        Highway 61 Blues Museum

Red’s Lounge                                                           Dockery Plantation

Po Monkey’s Lounge                                              BB King Blues Museum

Museum of the Mississippi Delta                                    Greenwood Blues & Heritage Gallery


The Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau has partnered with State officials and private developers to create a thriving tourist destination that appeals to a broader audience than just the gaming customer. The Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau has helped to develop attractions to include the Tunica RiverPark, Tunica Museum, Tunica Arena & Exposition Center, Tunica Aquatic Center, and Tunica National Golf & Tennis.  The private sector has developed Riverbend Links Golf Club, the Tunica Queen, and the Casino Factory Shoppes that combined with the gaming industry has made Tunica a must see destination that welcomes more than 5 million visitors annually to the State of Mississippi.


For more information about the Gateway to the Blues Museum visit


About Tunica:

Located 30 minutes south of Memphis, Tunica is The South’s Casino Capital. “Live It Up Just Down the Road” and enjoy eight world-class casinos, 5,000 luxurious hotel rooms, fine-dining restaurants and buffets, headline entertainers, championship golf and tennis, award-winning museums, lavish spas and outlet/antique shopping. Call 1-888-4TUNICA to request a value-packed Winner’s Guide, or visit for travel information.


Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Has Positive Impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Presented by C Spire has brought significant national visibility to the Mississippi Gulf Coast over the past five years, and that has translated into substantial monetary returns to the region. The tournament has had an estimated economic impact of over $76.6 million during its first five years, averaging $15.3 million per year. That does not include an estimated $1.7 million in overall impression impact for the gulf coast. (more…)

IP Casino Resort Spa Recieves AAA Four Diamond Rating

Winner of the elite AAA Four Diamond award, the IP Casino Resort Spa, is the Gulf Coast’s premier entertainment resort destination. Towering 32 stories over the scenic Back Bay of Biloxi, the IP is home to more than 1,000 elegantly appointed hotel rooms and suites, live entertainment, award-winning restaurants, and a first-class spa. (more…)

World Series of Poker Removes $10M Guaranteed Top Prize

According to Poker News, the World Series of Poker announced that it has changed the payout structure for this year’s main event.  Previously, the tournament faced criticism  from players who argued the huge first prize payout had negative effects on the rest of the payouts. Read the full story here.

Part of The Clarion Hotel is Still Standing After Implosion

According to Fox 5 Vegas, one tower of the Clarion Hotel remains standing after the implosion that took place in Vegas early this morning. The last section of the 12-story, 45 year old building will be demolished  in the coming days to make way for some new additions. Read the full story here.

Sports Stars and Sports Betting

According to ESPN,  sports stars feel the same way we do about gambling. After polling 73 professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, ESPN discovered that the majority of professional athletes think sports betting should be legalized. The sports pros also shared some of the strange bets they’ve  made. Read the full story here.

Golden Nugget’s Inaugural Concert was a Success

On January 17, the Grand Ballroom opened at the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles. Leann Rimes was first to perform and according to The Orange Leader, the show was a huge success. Rimes’ performance was the first of several big name acts and events scheduled at the Golden Nugget this year. Read the full story here.

New Silver Slipper CEO Adds Luxury Suites to the Top Floor

According to the Sun Herald, the new CEO of the Silver Slipper has changed construction plans for the top floor of the Bay St. Louis hotel. What was originally going to be a floor with 24 rooms will now be converted into nine super-suites. The first few floors of the hotel will be open to the public in April, with the suites just a few months behind. Read the full story here.

Giddy Apps Lets Players Ride the Web to Win

P20_Giddy App image--o_optWhen Bill, Walter and Tom Hessert formed Giddy Apps in 2012, they harnessed the appeal of both online gaming and horse racing to offer Internet players fresh and innovative gambling experiences. DerbyJackpot and DerbyLotto remove the complicated layers that could potentially make the sport intimidating to a newcomer.

“These games unpeel and demystify horse racing. They intentionally look like games on Facebook. We hired designers from social gaming companies, not online wagering companies,” Walter Hessert said. “Over 40 million people play social games on Facebook each month. We do the majority of our marketing there. Facebook has been an excellent partner and platform.”

In less than two years, the brothers—all recent Notre Dame graduates who could easily fill roles in a Vineyard Vines advertisement for Kentucky Derby apparel—expanded the Manhattan-based company from three to 16 employees. Giddy Apps has attracted 200,000 players and processed over ten million dollars in wagers, numbers that continue to rapidly increase.

Giddy Apps launched its first game, DerbyJackpot, in January 2013. This website allows players to bet as little as a dime on a race in a simplified social gaming format. In late 2014, the company introduced their second product: DerbyLotto. Each DerbyLotto game is a Pick 4, Pick 5 or Pick 6 horse racing wager that invites players to select the winners of consecutive races. Payouts for successful bets are much higher because of the challenge of picking several straight winners.

“DerbyLotto and state lottery games have a similar format, but DerbyLotto is a much better bet because it pays out 40 percent better. It’s the easiest way to win a million dollars on your mobile phone,” Hessert said. “We are focused on bringing the 40,000 horse races that happen in America each year to a different kind of gambler: lottery players, poker players and social gamers. We strive to come up with different ways of playing the horses that make it more appealing to a broader market than the people who are playing right now.”

Giddy Apps provides a limited amount of race data to simplify the sport for casual players. For example, information about jockeys and trainers is not available. However, Hessert said the live video feed and horse names are essential.

“DerbyJackpot’s been pretty good to me.”

“Even players who just pick a number love watching a horse race. It’s beautiful,” he said. “And the thoroughbred names are so much fun, too. They’re a great way to pick a horse.”

Hessert said an overwhelming majority of DerbyJackpot and DerbyLotto players have never been to a racetrack or previously gambled on the sport.

John Spaw, a law enforcement officer in Golden, Colorado, has never spent a day at the track. He first learned of DerbyJackpot in July from a Facebook ad. Since then, he has played almost every day.

“I am a gambler. I play slots. I have always been curious about horses,” Spaw said. “DerbyJackpot is a really good site for a starter who has never bet on horses. It is simple and easy, and it has a practice mode where you can learn how to bet and get comfortable with it before you start betting for cash. I was successful, so I switched over to playing for cash.”

Spaw’s biggest win was $2,070.20 on a 20 cent superfecta bet (a bet that’s called “The Dime” on DerbyJackpot). Two races later, he cashed another large ticket.

“DerbyJackpot’s been pretty good to me,” Spaw said.

Spaw’s law enforcement work schedule frequently requires late-night hours. He appreciates being able to play DerbyJackpot when a night shift ends because the courses in Australia are racing, and he likes that England tracks are running during his early morning. He also enjoys the diversity within the sport.

“I like the variety of racing: the sprints, the harness racing, the hunt racing in England,” Spaw said.
Spaw said DerbyJackpot provides great customer service. He also values the matching bonuses for deposits they periodically offer.

“It is all-around easy and convenient,” he said. “And you can do it from home or from your phone.”

DerbyJackpot and DerbyLotto are also different from other online wagering products because they offer an opportunity to chat with other players while watching a live video feed of each race.

“The strong sense of community on the sites has been the biggest surprise and best part of this journey,” Hessert said. “Our players become so engaged in the product and invested in the community. We see a lot of the same faces week to week.”

Author Bio: Sara Dacus is a lifelong Arkansan who teaches eighth grade English. While she was dating her now-husband, he took her to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and a love affair with both him and horse racing ignited. Dacus is now an avid racing enthusiast who follows the sport closely.

Scientific Games Moves Headquarters to Las Vegas

According to Vegas Inc, after a $5.1 billion acquisition of Bally Technologies, Scientific Games will move their corporate offices and manufacturing operations to Las Vegas. The gambling technology company was previously headquartered in New York. Read the full story here.

Caesars’ Bankruptcy Will Have No Impact on Southern Properties

According to the Shreveport Times, Caesars’ bankruptcy will have no effect on gaming in Shreveport and Bossier City. Properties in the region will continue with “business as usual” while their parent company battles in bankruptcy court.  Read the full story here.

The Top 5 Movies about Gaming

P28_hmar08_optWhen you love something as much as we love gaming, you’re always on the lookout for other ways to enjoy it. And as the winter drags on and on for much of the U.S., staying indoors in front of a DVD player or your online streaming service of choice, taking in a movie or two seems a nice alternate way to revel in your favorite pastime.

NASCAR lovers have “Days of Thunder” and “The Legend of Ricky Bobby.” Runners have “Chariots of Fire.” We casino fans? Well, there’s a veritable royal flush of films about life where the dealers never sleep and the sun never shines. Here are some of our favorites.





1995; directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone and a very sharp pen

Put Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in front of a camera and Martin Scorsese behind it, and there will be blood. The trio—veterans of “Raging Bull” and “Good Fellas”—give a riveting look at the behind-the-scenes life of the Tangiers casino and the group of made men who run it. Violence? Check. Sex? Yeah, there’s some of that. But what should appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike is the sequence where De Niro’s character leads the viewer through a tour of the machinations of a casino. Who knew the life of a chip could be so adventurous?


Casino Royale

2006; directed by Martin Campbell

Starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green Judi Dench and one Ebola-style bleeding eyeball

Not only was “Casino Royale” centered around a high-stakes game of poker, the movie itself represented a pretty big gamble. The first iteration of the character since Pierce Brosnan sipped his last shaken martini in 2002’s “Die Another Day,” the film amounted to a complete franchise reboot, taking audiences back to the kills that helped Bond earn his double-o status. The character became darker, losing some (but not all) of his cheeky, innuendo-laced demeanor and replacing it with scowls. The change in direction was worrisome enough to MGM studio heads that they brought Columbia Pictures aboard as a partner.


The Sting

1973; directed by George Roy Hill

Starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw and the world’s catchiest soundtrack

Newman and Redford had made cinematic magic together before, in 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” They score again here in a story about a group of gambling swindlers in Depression-era Chicago. As so often happens in stories in this genre, one of the moves goes awry, and anything but hilarity ensues. An aggrieved crime boss order hits. Pay-offs are offered. And finally—because that’s the kind of movie these are—everything hinges on one more swindle. Robert Shaw, who followed by playing the doomed Quint in “Jaws,” turns in a stand-out performance.


Ocean’s 11 ad infinitum

2001-2007; directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy García, Julia Roberts and one of the world’s worst fake accents. (Yes, Don Cheadle, we means you.)

The premise is familiar enough: Con-man gets out of prison. Con-man gets in touch with former partners in crime. Re-assembled crew goes out for one last heist. (Of course, for subsequent Ocean’s sequels to exist, they ultimately must go out for a couple more “one last heists.” What makes the film so popular is the boldness of the premise and the aplomb with which it is carried off: A simultaneously rip-off of three iconic Vegas properties. That, and the great, effortless chemistry among the leads, who go together like blackjack, bourbon and waitress wearing skimpy skirts.


The Hustler

1961; directed by Robert Rossen

Starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and the role that was almost Frank Sinatra’s

Ah, pool. Close-ups of trick shots. The slow broods and squints of intense players lining up their shots. Tension broke in the lightning strike of a cue against a white ball and the thunder claps of others scattering. The game is inherently dramatic, despite the languid pace it manifests to the untrained observer. Director Rossen understood this and played it to great effect in a story about revenge, forgiveness and love gone wrong (always the best kind in any story about gamblers and come-uppances). The film was based on a 1959 novel so beloved and screen-ready that even Sinatra wanted a piece of it.


You Can Create Casino Games

What does it take to create the next great casino game? The Las Vegas Sun compiled a list of just that. Great games might start with nothing more than a scribble on a cocktail napkin. So next time you and your friends invent your own game, follow these steps. There’s a chance your game will end up on casino floors across the world. Read the full story here.

Casinos in Southern Mississippi Stand Strong

According to the Sun Herald, the Casino Industry in South Mississippi is alive and well. Despite the closing of two casinos in 2014, this year’s State of the Casino report showed improvement in revenue from previous years. This may mean some new additions in the Mississippi market. Read the full story here.