As the Indiana legal mobile sports betting industry continues to expand, operators around the country are taking notice. That includes 888 Holdings, which is keen to bring its online sportsbook to Indiana.
Although there is work yet to be done to make that a reality, it’s clear that 888 sees the Hoosier State as a viable market for its product. The scope of what may be bigger than Indiana sports betting, as well.
Why Indiana’s sports market intrigues 888 Sport
Indiana online sports betting is attractive because of the early returns and the time at which it launched. Yaniv Sherman, head of commercial development for 888 Holdings, spoke with PlayIndiana.com and explains why.
“I agree that the initial [Indiana sports betting revenue] numbers coming in were good. Again it’s just one month but in our experience, you either are pleasantly surprised or think it’s subpar in the sense of the first month or two. I remember in New Jersey, we launched in November 2013. The development of the market was a lot slower.
“States going online today enjoy the momentum and a lot of the groundwork laid for a good number of years with banking and geolocation. We had to develop all those things on the go.”
Sherman goes on to say the first retail sports betting revenue figures from Indiana show potential, but that online sports betting has the most significant opportunity. Sherman thinks Indiana is a crucial state for several reasons.
“I think Indiana is a strong sport state. The other factor is seasonality. It’s the NFL season. Once that subsides I think the NBA and NCAA will have a good push. There will be volatility in the market, but overall I think it will be a strong state.”
Indiana isn’t only attractive because of the presence of sports teams like the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Pacers, however. The regulatory framework also puts Indiana on the shortlist.
How Indiana’s government set the market up for success
Sherman also feels that the Hoosier State has a structure that enables it to compete with more populous states. Those details include the cost of entry and tax rate.
“I think Illinois could be a bigger market, but the challenge is what flows to the bottom line. That tax rate is about 20% and a $10 million ticket. Both markets have a co-branding requirement that theoretically gives incumbent operators an advantage.”
When looking at the market, Sherman looks to the development of Pennsylvania as a comparison for the Illinois market. The biggest expenses in a nascent market are marketing and customer acquisition. That is why proving a path to profitability is crucial. Sherman believes Indiana has a clear path.
“The biggest winners in that situation are states like Indiana.”
As Sherman alluded to, 888 has yet to make a market access deal for Indiana. He said that Caesars, which operates several brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state, is a possible partner. Sherman also stated they hope to get an Indiana mobile sportsbook live in 2020.
While a mobile sportsbook may be the focus of 888 Holding’s foray into Indiana right now, it hasn’t given up on more in the future. Right now, the legal landscape is a major obstacle, however.
How an 888 Holdings sportsbook could segue to more later
Currently, other online gambling remains illegal in the Hoosier State, including:
- Online poker
- Online slots
- Online casino games
There is no current significant movement to change that, either. Should that situation ever change, 888 will be ready to take advantage. Sherman explains how.
“I think it’s definitely a segue; back in 2013 the challenge or the gap was a lot of the regulators were not 100% sure that this would work. The sticking point is political, sometimes social and also economical because you have casinos in the state that are very concerned about their livelihood and trying to protect that.
“I think we are sort of special in that we offer a full suite of products so we actually think that poker is a segue to gaming and once states join the compact that we are already powering between Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, which is showing great success, is a step toward full legalization, but I think in the longer run, Indiana included, I think more states will be inclined to include online casino.”
Indiana could be the next market for 888. It’s unclear how many other operators have the same ambitions, but given the track record of 888, its introduction into the market will help the gaming industry in the Hoosier State grow even more.