Like The Football Calendar, Sports Betting Numbers Slowed In December

Posted on January 10, 2020 - Last Updated on January 14, 2020

Indiana’s 61% growth in handle from October to November 2019 was hard to top, much less repeat. The December sports betting numbers show some growth, but nowhere near that large.

Total handle from all online and retail Indiana sportsbooks came to over $161.8 million. That’s up just about nine percent month-over-month. The explanation for the slowdown in growth is simple.

December sports betting numbers have some ‘splaining to do

A big part of the reason that growth slowed in 2019’s final month is that sports betting is tied to consumer interest in the available games. All over the United States, there’s no greater sport for wagering than football.

Unfortunately for Indiana’s legal sportsbooks, the teams in and around the state had less than ideal seasons. The pertinent NFL teams, the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, and Indianapolis Colts, all failed to make the playoffs. Each team was out of playoff contention before the regular season was even over.

The college side saw diminishing returns as well. Although the Notre Dame Fighting Irish won 10 games, many of their opponents had poor seasons. The perception that Notre Dame’s schedule was soft put the Irish in a lesser bowl game.

Purdue missed the bowl season altogether and Indiana didn’t reach the highest of heights either. All these factors led to fans checking out and deciding not to place as many bets.

The proof of this is right in the figures released by the Indiana Gaming Commission. Handle on football games grew by just $2 million from November to December.

The tapering off of growth was about more than just total handle and football wagers, however. Despite the introduction of a new online sportsbook into the state, the online share was flat as well.

Online sportsbooks aren’t yet dominating in the Hoosier State

A look at the bigger picture of handle and revenue at each sportsbook in Indiana tells a more detailed story. The full breakdown is as follows:

CasinoHandleRetail Sports Betting HandleMobile Sports Betting HandleRevenue*Taxes (9.5%)
Total$147.27 million$51.07 million$96.21 million$9.29 million$883,361
Ameristar (DraftKings)$72.07 million$7.99 million$64.08 million$4.32 million$410,048
Belterra$920,344$920,344N/A$88,024$8,362
Blue Chip (FanDuel)$28.19 million$4.47 million$23.73 million$1.98 million$188,170
Caesars Southern Indiana$1.41 million$1.41 millionN/A
$84,310$8,009
French Lick Resort (BetRivers)$9.63 million$1.24 million$8.39 million$487,429$46,306
Harrah's Hoosier Park**$6.97 million$6.97 millionN/A
$463,958$44,076
Hollywood Lawrenceburg$8.78 million$8.78 millionN/A$861,360$81,829
Horseshoe Hammond$12.96 million$12.96 millionN/A$671,826$63,823
Indiana Grand***$4.19 million$4.19 millionN/A$199,083$18,913
Tropicana Evansville$2.01 million$2.01 millionN/A$125,452$11,918
Rising Star$110,300$110,300N/A$20,076$1,907

In November, online sportsbooks in Indiana accounted for about 65.3% of handle in the state. Last month the same were responsible for 64.2% of handle.

In other states with online betting at a similar juncture, online books accounted for at least 80% of the whole. Indiana, which has just four sports betting apps,  is well below that mark. With online sportsbook flat month-over-month, it isn’t on a path to catch up any time soon either.

Football plays a big part in December dips and stagnation

The disappointment with the local football teams is a reason for this as well, as demonstrated by the numbers for the Hollywood Lawrenceburg Casino.

Despite not having a mobile component, Hollywood took in the second-highest dollar total in wagers in the state last month as far as retail books go. As a matter of fact, Lawrenceburg nearly outperformed French Lick Casino, which has an online sportsbook partner.

The simple explanation for this is Lawrenceburg’s proximity to the greater Cincinnati area. The success of the Ohio State Buckeyes in not only winning the Big 10 conference title but qualifying for the College Football Playoff likely kept Ohioans making the trip to place bets there.

While the disappointing local results on the gridiron are to blame for December’s slowdown, they should also be responsible for a brighter future in the Hoosier State. The NFL playoffs and the College Football Playoff championship game tend to draw a crowd of bettors regardless of fan allegiances.

The growth of the sports betting industry in Indiana slowed in December but that’s not because the product was inferior online or at the casinos. It’s because the products on the football field were inferior to their competitors.

Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling