Gov. Holcomb Focused On Land-Based Growth Over Online Casinos

Posted on January 8, 2020 - Last Updated on January 14, 2020

After a groundbreaking 2019, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is in no hurry to make the gaming industry in his state over again. The three gambling projects on his radar represent the fulfillment of the existing landscape.

In an interview with the Northwest Indiana Times, Holcomb expressed his contentment with gaming growth in the state. He also outlined exactly what he would like to see happen in the state this year.

Gov. Holcomb in no hurry for more changes

Like those who occupy a similar office in other states, Holcomb placed one of the first legal bets on Sept. 1, 2019. The governor has praised the sports betting industry ever since.

“I think what we did was a step in the right direction, for sure,” Holcomb said. “Consumers want convenience, and this industry is no different than any other. I like to brag about the state of Indiana for being a place of continuity and certainty and convenience.”

While Holcomb said he hasn’t placed a bet since that $10 futures wager on the Indianapolis Colts to win Super Bowl LIV, he isn’t afraid to bet on his state’s early success becoming sustainable.

“It looks to me, by the numbers and hearing from both industry and participants — people who bet on a more regular basis than I do because the last time I did was the first day you could — people are appreciating where we are right now,” Holcomb said.

It’s hard not to like where Indiana sports betting is right now. Although numbers for the final month of 2019 are still in the works, Indiana sportsbooks took in nearly $300 million in handle September through November 2019.

That’s especially remarkable given the fact that online betting wasn’t available in the state until October 3. The number of mobile books, four, in the state is still small compared to other markets.

That number should grow quickly, however. Several more Indiana operators plan to launch by Super Bowl Sunday.

Growth in 2020 will similarly come from existing channels. Holcomb’s words suggest no more major changes are on the horizon.

What to – and not to – expect in Indiana in 2020

Holcomb’s “wish list” for the gambling industry in his state this year includes the following:

  • Successful relocation of the Majestic Star I riverboat casino to its inland Gary location
  • The same as above with the Majestic Star II to Terre Haute
  • Expansion of gaming at the Four Winds South Bend

The first two items represent the fulfillment of a 2015 law that allowed riverboat casinos to move inland. The two casinos will rebrand as well as relocate, bringing the Hard Rock name back to Indiana.

The Four Winds, the only tribal casino in the Hoosier State, currently only offers bingo games. Holcomb wants to see the facility have all the offerings that its commercial competitors have.

That won’t include online casinos in Indiana anytime soon. There is no great outcry for such in the state right now and Holcomb wants more time to see the full impacts of the current legal framework.

While online poker and slots may come to the Hoosier State someday, it won’t be in 2020. If Holcomb is representative of the dominant attitude in his state, everyone is happy with the current situation.

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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.

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