What Will Drive Indiana To Legalize Online Casinos In 2025?

Posted on May 3, 2024

Indiana was quick to legalize sports betting after the US Supreme Court opened the door in 2018. The Hoosier State hasn’t shown the same urgency with online casinos. But it’s not because of a lack of effort.

Lawmakers in Indiana have considered various measures to legalize iGaming in the last three years. All the bills have failed to gain traction for various reasons. A corruption scandal in 2023 involving casino gaming soured lawmakers to expand gambling in the state this year.

A few factors, though, including legal iGaming in neighboring states and less scrutiny from retail casinos, could spur Indiana to legalize online casinos in 2025.

Indiana boasts a bustling brick-and-mortar casino industry

There’s no shortage of casino gambling options in the state as lawmakers might soon consider adding Indiana online casinos to the state gaming industry.

When the American Gaming Association (AGA) ranked its top commercial casino markets in 2023, it lumped Indiana and Illinois together to form the “Chicagoland” market. The market was ranked third in the nation, with roughly $2.2 billion in revenue last year.

In total, 13 casinos call Indiana home:

  • Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago
  • Bally’s Evansville Casino
  • Belterra Casino Resort & Spa
  • Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa
  • Caesars Southern Indiana
  • Four Winds South Bend
  • French Lick Resort Casino
  • Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana
  • Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino
  • Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg
  • Horseshoe Hammond
  • Horseshoe Indianapolis
  • Rising Star Casino Resort

In March, Indiana’s casino market topped $213 million in revenue. It was a slight decline from March 2023 ($217.9 million), but it was 11.5% higher than the previous month. It was also the first time in 11 months the state’s casino market topped the $200 million mark in revenue.

Surrounding states adding pressure

It might be tough for Indiana lawmakers to sit and wait as other states make iGaming moves. There are currently seven states that offer online casinos.

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

Nevada offers only online poker.

The US iGaming market grew 22.9% in 2023 from 2022, according to the AGA. That equated to $6.17 billion in revenue. A study by Spectrum Gaming Group showed that iGaming operators could collect $880 million annually in a mature Indiana market.

Indiana’s neighbor to the north, Michigan, is one of those states contributing mightily to that growth. It totaled $1.92 billion in online casino gaming revenue in 2023, which tied with New Jersey for the most money generated from iGaming.

Indiana’s eastern neighbor, Ohio, which added sports betting last year, is already in talks about adding online casinos to its gambling offerings.

Indiana casino operators have shown support for online casinos

Four retail casino operators, some of which also operate casinos in Indiana, have voiced their support for iGaming in Maryland.

In early March, the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee heard from Horseshoe Baltimore’s general manager, Randy Conroy. The casino resort is owned by Caesars Entertainment, which also owns Horseshoe Hammond, Horseshoe Indianapolis and Harrah’s Hoosier Park in Indiana.

Conroy testified that he supports iGaming as long as it’s tied to brick-and-mortar casinos.

“The existing casinos have proven experience administering casino gaming including strict adherence to all gaming regulations, such as anti-money laundering, know-your-customer, responsible gaming and underage protections. Moreover, Maryland casinos have the unique ability to cross-market iGaming with brick-and-mortar businesses.”

That was echoed by Caitlin McDonough, representing Penn Entertainment’s Hollywood Casino Perryville. Penn also owns Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg in Indiana.

Corruption scandal still on legislators’ minds

A corruption scandal in 2023 is still in the minds of decision-makers. It needs some time to simmer.

Last November, officials charged former state Rep. Sean Eberhart with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. He allegedly took money from Spectacle Gaming (a casino company), and in return, he agreed to work to pass laws favoring Indiana’s gaming industry. Additionally, the companies involved allegedly guaranteed his future employment.

As a result, Indiana lawmakers decided to pause all talks of online casino expansion in 2024.

A positive of the hiatus is that it gives lawmakers a chance to step back from the iGaming issue. They can come together next year with renewed vigor.

The problem is that Indiana misses out on the millions of tax dollars iGaming could generate for state coffers for another year. The most recent online casino expansion bill would have implemented an 18% tax, resulting in tens of millions of dollars each year for Indiana.

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who currently works for the USA Today Network. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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