Indiana Casinos Thrilled With Sports Betting’s Hot Start And Midwest Monopoly

Posted on January 23, 2020

Since sports betting opened up in the Hoosier State back in September, Indiana has already become one of the largest markets in the country.

During an interview with Inside Indiana Business, Casino Association of Indiana CEO Matt Bell talked about how impressive the nearly $430 million that the state has generated in its first four months of sports betting is.

“I think it’s a tremendous launch in the state of Indiana. It shows that there was an untapped market, Hoosiers who wanted to enjoy their sports games by placing a wager on them.”

The key factor in the state’s hot start was that mobile and online betting became available shortly after the state opened its sportsbooks.

States like Delaware didn’t have that advantage. That’s because they either went months before implementing online betting or never offered it at all.

Although the two states have a population difference, that online betting has helped Indiana dwarf the $40 million handle that Delaware had during its first four months after launch.

Indiana sports betting remains Midwest’s only option

As the only state in the Midwest to currently offer sports betting, Indiana has a geographic advantage.

Indiana’s casinos have benefited from travelers that live near the border since bettors only need to cross the state line to place their mobile wagers. That’s a trip that fewer people will be willing to make as more of those nearby states implement sports betting.

In particular, Ameristar and Blue Chip Casinos have seen the biggest boosts to their handles. That’s largely the result of the properties’ partnerships with DraftKings and FanDuel. The two casinos pulled in over $115 million combined throughout December.

Although Indiana’s standing as the lone wolf in the Midwest may be a fleeting one, Bell believes that the state is in a solid position to continue growing as a market.

“We have great regulations that ensure the state’s interests,” Bell said. “I think our operators with our regulators and lawmakers pave a way for Indiana to be successful in the lead.”

Indiana’s growth was slower in December than it had been in previous months. Keeping that expansion up will become an increasingly difficult task as more Midwest competitors enter the picture.

Where other states stand on legalizing sportsbooks

Indiana’s neighbors have been slow to get the ball rolling.

Illinois legalized sports betting around the same time as Indiana, but so far has been unable to come to market. That’s a very good thing for Bell and the Casino Association of Indiana.

Bell criticized the system in Illinois, which will allow for only three online-only operators in the state.

“They have a very expensive, government-centric regulatory and tax structure that’s prevented folks from making investment to come to market.”

Those operators will have to pay a hefty $20 million fee to obtain their licenses. They also won’t be allowed to open for business online until 18 months after sports betting begins throughout the state.

That year and a half gap before online betting starts will extend the window that Indiana will receive wagers from residents near the state line.

Michigan is the only other state in the Midwest where sports betting is imminent. Indiana’s northern neighbors are aiming to have their sportsbooks open in time for March Madness.

Kentucky currently has a bill for legalization headed to the General Assembly floor.

Ohio has a pair of competing bills that may slow the legalization process in the state.

For now Indiana will enjoy the lack of competition. But as the surrounding states join in, it will only become harder to keep the party going.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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