With the newly regulated online sportsbooks, many people are asking when casino games will be coming online in Indiana.
While there are currently no bills expanding the reach of online gambling beyond sports, many commentators see it as only being a matter of time.
There are existing online casinos already welcoming deposits from Indiana players. These sites are entirely legal and use existing sweepstakes gaming laws to offer slots, table games and video poker.
This page covers all you need to know about live and online casino gambling in Indiana.
Firstly, you’ll find out about the current legal landscape, plus changes in the setup of live casinos. After that, we examine sweepstakes casino options in detail. Finally, we explore regulated casinos in other states, showing what a regulated online casino market would look like in the Hoosier State.
Are Online Casinos Legal in Indiana?
News about bill H 1015 has been hard to miss recently; the Indiana Senate recently approved the bill and it only needs the signature of Gov. Eric Holcomb to become law.
This bill allows for online sports betting and follows the overturning of the PASPA act, which prevented states from offering sports betting for many years. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are already offering sports betting, and Indiana will be the first Midwestern state to get on board.
Bill H 1015 also introduces some notable changes to the live casino setup. Table games will expand, it permits movement of one of the riverboat casinos in Gary, IN, and offers a license for a brand-new casino.
Unfortunately, this is as far as the bill goes.
The bill provides no provisions for the licensing and regulation of either online casinos or online poker rooms; however, this does not rule out the eventual adoption of either of these. That will require another piece of legislation. The success of online casinos in other states (and the resulting tax boost) is a factor that could speed up a second bill.
Existing statues covering online casino gambling for Indiana.
In most states, the legislation covering online casino gambling is on statutes which predate the internet. Indiana is different, with wording in a 2006 amendment specifically covering websites.
While there have been prosecutions of participants in underground gambling rings historically, no individual has been indicted for enjoying real-money online casino gambling to date.
Looking at the Indiana statutes, gambling has a vague, though seemingly catch-all definition:
‘“Gambling” means risking money or other property for gain, contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, or the operation of a gambling device’ (from section 35-45-5-1).
This would specifically exclude casino gambling (chance), though it is broad enough to cover sports betting and poker, which both include an element of skill.
There are caveats for charity gambling events, and licenses for 10 riverboat casinos and two racetrack casinos. The sole tribal casino in Indiana, which opened in 2007, operates under a compact.
Live Casinos in Indiana
There have been legal casinos in Indiana for decades.
In recent years, there has been a gradual expansion from the initial five licenses to 10 boats and two racetracks. Originally, riverboat casinos were only licensed to offer gambling while on the move.
If and when online casino licensing happens, the live venues will have first rights to the online licenses. In NJ and PA, casinos have teamed up with global players to provide locally branded online casinos and using global brands.
Indiana hosts nine riverboat casinos, two racetracks and one tribal casino. Here’s an overview:
- Ameristar Casino: This riverboat is docked at Indiana Harbor on Lake Michigan in East Chicago. It has undergone several brand changes, previously known as Resorts, Harrah’s and Showboat Mardi Gras.
- Belterra Casino: This riverboat is on the Ohio River close to Florence, IN. Boyd Gaming owns it. In an unfortunate event, the original boat sank after a collision just before opening and had to be replaced.
- Blue Chip Casino: This riverboat casino is in Michigan City, IN. It hosts a 1,200-seat event center in addition to the casino that welcomes musicians and comedians.
- Four Winds South Bend Casino: This is Indiana’s only tribal casino, which is operated by the Pokagon Tribe, a 5,000-strong tribe that became federally recognized in 1997.
- French Lick Casino: This was Indiana’s first “dryland” casino. It opened in 2006 between the towns of West Baden and French Lick. The site includes resort spas, hotels and stables.
- Hollywood Casino: Located in Lawrenceburg, IN, this huge riverboat casino covers the Cincinnati area. Penn National Gaming operates this casino.
- Hoosier Park: This racetrack casino is in Anderson, IN. Caesars Entertainment owns it. Harness racing is popular here, and an entertainment complex hosts prominent name musicians.
- Horseshoe Southern Indiana: This riverboat casino is on the Ohio River. While its official Indiana address is the town of Elizabeth, it is conveniently located opposite Louisville, Ky.
- Horseshoe Hammond: A second casino with the horseshoe name is in Hammond (East Chicago), IN. This four-level gaming venue has entertainment and dining options as well as more than 3,000 slots and table games.
- Indiana Grand: This venue is a racetrack, located close to Indianapolis. Caesars Entertainment owns and operates it. As well as casino, entertainment and dining options, you can enjoy thoroughbred racing here.
- Majestic Star I and II: Located in Gary on Lake Michigan, these twin riverboat casinos are owned by Majestic Star Holdings. Majestic Star II was once known as the Trump Casino.
- Rising Star Casino: This riverboat was once known as the Grand Victoria, and is located in Rising Sun, IN. There are two hotel towers and an entertainment pavilion here.
- Tropicana Casino: This is Indiana’s second “dryland” venue, located in Evansville. This is a combination of casino, hotel and entertainment complex.
Legal Online Casino Options for Indiana Players
While we wait for future legislation, there are already online casinos welcoming deposits from Indiana. These are Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots. They are legal options, and welcome players from across the country (except for Washington state).
These casinos stay legal by using sweepstakes gaming laws. When you spin a slot, deal a hand of blackjack or hit “draw” on video poker, you will effectively be entering a fast sweepstakes contest. You can’t play these games directly for dollars, though you can undoubtedly win some big cash prizes.
These sites use “sweeps cash,” which can be exchanged to dollars that can be withdrawn to your bank account.
You get sweeps cash for free in several ways:
Register an account at Chumba Casino and get $2 in free sweeps cash.
Send a letter to a registered address for either Chumba Casino or LuckyLand Slots. They will credit your account with additional sweeps cash.
Buy “gold coins” or “gold chips.” These are the play-money currency at these online casinos. When you make a purchase, you get some free sweeps cash (often double the value via bonuses).
Enter social media contests via Facebook or Twitter.
You’ll find both casinos are easy to use. The sweeps cash system is a creative workaround that keeps these casinos legal.
You can buy chips with your credit card or with Skrill. Both casinos have an impressive collection of slots. Many of these are “heavily influenced” by popular games you’ll find in live Indiana casinos.
Gray Market Casinos: A Dangerous Option
You might see offshore casinos offering real-money gambling. These casinos claim to be legal in their jurisdiction (usually the Caribbean Island). While some brands have been operating for several years, the lack of oversight should be a red flag.
If you have a dispute with an offshore casino, or it merely disappears (along with player balances), then you have no recourse. Relying on deposit methods like Bitcoin and prepaid credit cards ensures that it is the player taking all the risk and not the casino.
Online Casino Games in Indiana
So far, the specifics of games you can choose from have been skimmed over. We flesh out what you can find at the legal online (sweepstakes) casinos in Indiana and many of the popular games at legal state casinos.
First, there are five broad categories of games to cover. Each of these has its subtypes.
Online slots: Just like in live casinos, this is the most popular and numerous type of casino game. They range some simple, three-reel games to complex, movie-themed titles with life-changing progressive jackpots. Look out for entertaining bonus rounds and wild symbols with special behavior.
Table games: Expect to see table games at Indiana casinos. Options include every game you can play over the green felt: blackjack, roulette, craps and casino poker variants.
Video poker: From jacks or better on bar-top consoles to today’s complex “Double Double Bonus Poker” or multi-hand games, video poker is a low-edge alternative to other gambling options.
Keno and bingo: As themes and computer graphics become more advanced, the gap between keno and slots gets smaller. You can even find “Slingo” titles, which involve the best of both keno and real-money bingo. If you prefer a more traditional keno format, this is available at many online casinos, too.
Novelty games: While this is a catch-all for anything at an online casino that does not fit into the categories above, innovation makes these games worth checking out. You’ll find scratch-its, fun games based on TV game shows and even virtual betting available online.
Online Casino Bonus Deals
Both Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots already offer casino bonuses for Indiana-based players.
These are small, though do give you a great way to check out the games with some free sweeps cash. If you win, could be cashing out a lump sum.
The free, upfront cash style offer is popular in other states. We hope when online casino regulation comes to Indiana that similar bonuses will be available.
These promotions give players a small amount of bonus cash simply for registering an account. There are some terms and conditions in place to prevent casino bonus abuse.
You’ll need to wager the bonus cash before it becomes withdrawable, and ID verification will be required. By taking the risk away, yet still offering chances to hit the jackpot or big line-hit, these deals are a great way to check out the different casinos.
Deposit bonuses are the most common way to offer new players extra cash.
These match your first deposit, often at 100% of a specified amount. For example, a casino might offer a 100% match of up to $250 for new players, which means you get twice the amount to gamble with — in this case, $500 instead of $250. Wagering requirements (that can be weighted by game) will usually apply.
This offering is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to casino bonuses. Most online sites have loyalty schemes.
These programs are sometimes in tiers, offering more benefits the longer you play. Casinos sometimes tie loyalty schemes to live casinos. Look out for free spins bonuses, reloads, slot or blackjack tournament entries, happy hour promotions, and one-off and seasonal offers.
Speculation: How does a regulated online casino market in Indiana look?
The newly regulated online sports betting market is a significant policy change for Indiana, which has left many people hopeful that online casinos and poker rooms will soon follow.
With no new bills announced, the period between the sports betting apps going live and the next legislative session will be necessary.
Based on NJ and PA online casino activity, how future casino gambling could look in Indiana can be seen. Regulated states have given jurisdiction for licensing to their gaming control boards. For example, in New Jersey, the Division of Gambling Enforcement covers licensing and regulates areas like responsible gambling policy and game fairness.
In the current regulated states, each online casino has to partner with an existing brick-and-mortar venue. Some live casinos have multiple licenses, most branded a casino on their own name, while some have partnered with international giants like Bwin.Party, The Stars Group or Scientific Games to develop a platform.
Some good news for IN residents comes via the bonus offers at these casinos.
With competition for new players being fierce, there are multiple opportunities to pick up free cash, deposit bonuses and many other incentives. In the early days after “go live,” you’ll have the chance to take maximum advantage of the casino marketing budgets.
The final significant difference for a state-regulated casino is the vast choice of games.
At LuckyLand and Chumba Casino, you can choose from 50 or more slot titles. Regulated casinos sometimes have 10x this number. You’ll be able to enjoy online versions of live casino favorites, plus new games from some of the biggest slot studios from around the world. Add to this a choice of table games, including many live dealer options.
Wrapping up: Online casino gambling in Indiana
Sports betting online is about to go live, and many hope that casino games will follow soon after. Bill H 1015 does not include casino gaming, so this will need to be via another act. The success of similar regulation in other states might well be a catalyst for this legislation.
In the meantime, Hoosier State residents have options for legal online casino play: sweepstakes casinos. They are legal, working with existing sweepstakes laws. Instead of buying chips directly, you buy “gold coins” or gold chips” (play-money tokens) and get sweeps cash for free. There are some big jackpots and entertaining games to check out. If you win, you can exchange your sweeps cash for dollars and cash out.
Looking at other states, you’ll see a thriving casino setup. This includes a fantastic choice of games and some generous marketing offers. These give us clues as to how a regulated online casino in Indiana would look, and many casino players will say, “Bring it on.”