Will Illinois’ Sports Betting Progress Hamper Indiana Sports Betting Growth?

Posted on January 6, 2020 - Last Updated on January 9, 2020

An old joke compares many things to snow in that you never know when it’s coming or how much there will be. Illinois sports betting fits that description these days.

The time for Indiana to enjoy exclusivity for legal sports betting among its neighbors draws short. There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to how legal wagering in the Land of Lincoln might affect the gambling industry in the Hoosier State, however.

The latest on the rollout of Illinois sports betting

Illinois gaming is already moving forward when it comes to making IL sports betting a reality. The state’s gaming board issued license application forms for legal sportsbooks last month.

While that’s an important step in initiating legal sports wagering, it’s just one step. There is a lot of work left to be done.

The board still has to process those applications and determine which to approve. Additionally, the casinos and sportsbook operators need time to build out their products.

The bottom line right now is that about eight months after legalization, there is still no timeline for launch. That time frame lags behind other Indiana’s rollout significantly.

In Indiana and Iowa, legalization to rollout took about three months. Illinois is approaching three times that length of time with no end in sight right now. While that timeline is par for the course in some other states, those states are also not surrounded by bordering competitors acting rapidly.

Every day the Land of Lincoln delays, more Illinoisans cross the borders into those states to place bets. Illinois’ delays are Indiana’s gain, as that means extra revenue for everyone involved.

Sportsbooks going live in Illinois should curtail that. The question is how much? There are several factors at play in the answer to that question.

Accessibility, competitiveness and the force of habit

One of the things that might help Indiana sportsbooks to retain out-of-state customers is how accessible the products are on both sides of the border. Indiana enables customers to register for accounts completely online while Illinois could require bettors to register in person, for example.

For many Illinois residents, it might still be more convenient to cross the state line than to make the drive to the retail sportsbook of their choice to complete the registration process. Illinois could level that playing field by making it easy for its citizens to play from their sofas.

Another way that Indiana sportsbooks can soften the blow is simply offering a superior product. Whether this takes the form of better odds, larger promos, or more enticing gimmick prizes like free stays at hotels, keeping customers on the road could be nothing more than a marketing game.

The final factor in Indiana sportsbooks’ favor is ongoing right now. Behavioral psychology has proven time and again how our species is one of habit. For some Illinoisans who love to bet on sports and travel to Indiana to do so currently, the pain of creating a new habit might be greater than the inconvenience of having to cross the state line to keep up the pattern.

Illinois sports betting, like snowfall, is inevitable. What’s uncertain right now is whether it will be a dusting or a blizzard as far as their impact on Indiana sportsbooks is concerned.

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