Planting The Seed: Indiana Could Become The Gambling Capital Of The Midwest

Posted on October 29, 2019

With several casinos, off-track betting sites, “racinos” and the introduction of legal sports betting, Indiana offers almost as many gaming options as any state. The recent Indiana gambling growth suggests the Hoosier State could become the place to be for gambling entertainment in the Midwest.

Uncertainty in surrounding states and proximity to strong population centers augment Indiana’s strength. One important figure in the gaming industry recently spoke to that.

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Indiana sports betting growth not going unnoticed

Since the launch of mobile sports betting in Indiana, that segment of the industry has gained a lot of steam. DraftKings states that 58% of its Hoosier State registrants have been new customers.

While that market is currently limited to FanDuel, BetRivers and the aforementioned DraftKings, other sportsbooks should go live in Indiana soon. The potential for mobile sports betting benefits from the current set of circumstances.

None of Indiana’s neighboring states currently offer legal sports betting at all, much less over the internet. While Illinois has legalized it, it could be months if not years before mobile betting goes live there.

Because Indiana does not require out-of-state bettors to register in person, many residents are already crossing state lines to place bets from:

  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Ohio 

Indiana is close to major population centers like Chicago, Detroit and Cincinnati, allowing a legal option for people in those cities.

Because of that proximity and its regulatory landscape, Indiana has great potential to mimic the success of New Jersey. There is one huge obstacle to really being on the same level as the Garden State, however.

The last big step Indiana needs to take in competition

One large advantage New Jersey currently enjoys in comparison to Indiana is online casino games. Those remain illegal in Indiana, and there’s currently no significant movement toward changing that.

If and when Indiana should legalize online poker, online slots, and online table games, before its neighboring states, it would again have a scenario identical to the one it currently enjoys with sports betting. Many of the operators who are in the state already have an iGaming presence in states like New Jersey.

That means if Indiana legalizes online casino gambling, the games would mostly be turnkey in the Hoosier State. That would especially be true if Indiana’s regulations resemble those in New Jersey.

Indiana’s tax rates are among the most competitive in the country. Sportsbooks, for example, pay 9.5% on their handle, much less than the rate of neighboring Illinois.

While that means less revenue for the state per dollar, that difference can be made up by volume. Legalizing online casino games will likely increase that volume because casinos are more likely to invest in states with lower tax rates.

That investment would be configured on one goal: bringing in even more revenue to the Hoosier State.

If Indiana builds it, they will come

The entertainment industry revolves around reasons for people to leave their homes or navigate their viewing devices. Indiana boasts many of those.

The Hoosier State is not only home to professional sports franchises in the NBA and NFL but has three major NCAA athletic programs. Not to mention, the NCAA’s headquarters is in Indianapolis.

Because of its proximity to the aforementioned major cities, the sporting options are many. Even for those who aren’t interested in sports, the casinos offer event spaces that can attract conference and convention traffic in a variety of industries.

Those options are only going to increase as the gambling industry in Indiana grows. Indiana may someday be the New Jersey of the Midwest, and it already has a head start on the competition.

Derek Helling Avatar
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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