Legal online casinos could be coming to Indiana in 2022.
The push to legalize iGaming fell short in the Hoosier State this year, but things will start to pick up again after the holiday season.
Indiana’s 2022 legislative session runs from January until March, so there’s a decent window to make some progress.
The case for Indiana online casinos
Indiana sports betting has become wildly popular since it first started two years ago. Hoosiers bet over $463 million on sports during November alone.
If that feels like a huge number, that’s because it is.
Indiana is one of the largest sports betting markets in the entire county. The state’s $5.5 billion lifetime handle is a staggering amount of money.
The success of Indiana sports betting has lawmakers looking for the next big thing, and online casinos are the natural next step for the state’s gambling industry.
Online casinos allow gamblers to play popular games such as blackjack and poker from the comfort of their homes. That flexibility has become a luxury since the start of the pandemic.
They also generate much more tax revenue compared to sports betting.
Indiana sports betting has generated over $43 million worth of taxes since betting began in September 2019.
For the sake of comparison, Michigan added online casinos to its gambling lineup in January 2021.
It hasn’t even been a full year yet, and Indiana’s northern neighbor has already brought in over $220 million worth of tax revenue. Just a few months of Michigan iGaming ran laps around Indiana’s lifetime tax haul from sports betting.
That’s money that could go a long way in communities throughout the Hoosier State.
Bigger priorities last year
Indiana tried to legalize online casinos in 2021. Unfortunately, that push didn’t make it far.
So what exactly stood in the way, and what could be different for 2022?
First thing’s first, the Spectacle Entertainment scandal was partly responsible for things falling flat. Senate President Rodric Bray wanted to take things slow since the investigation was ongoing at the time
Secondly, the pandemic made for a strange legislative session this year.
There were fewer committee session days in 2021 thanks to COVID-19. That led to less in-person interaction and less lobbying amongst the legislature.
Without that face-to-face contact, there wasn’t enough of a chance to educate lawmakers about online casinos. After all, it’s hard to convince someone to legalize something if they don’t even understand what it is.
Sen. Jon Ford has been at the forefront of Indiana gambling legislation. He led the charge to bring sports betting to the Hoosier State, and now he’s also behind the push for online casinos.
According to Ford, that lack of education played a big role in failing to legalize iGaming in 2021.
“I think I underestimated the need for education. A lot of legislatures don’t understand what iGaming is, and a lot thought we already passed it. With COVID and the lack of in-person communication these days, the timing wasn’t right.”
Will Indiana legalize online casinos?
All things considered, the 2022 push for legalization should be much stronger than the efforts from this year.
Ford and company have had an entire year to get to work on educating Indiana lawmakers.
There’s also more evidence to point to in support of iGaming. Michigan’s colossal tax numbers could be enough to catch the eyes of lawmakers.
The Spectacle scandal is also wrapped up at this point, so there are no other major gambling situations that need attention first.
All of that could culminate in the state legalizing online casinos sometime this spring.
We won’t know for sure until the legislative session gets underway next month, but the future is looking bright for gambling in Indiana. Before long, Hoosiers could have the chance to play classic casino games without even having to leave their homes.