Corona Who? Indiana Casinos Report Big Increase In 2021 Gaming Revenue

Posted on August 11, 2021

It looks like 2021 will be a record year for Indiana’s gambling industry.

According to a new report from the American Gaming Association (AGA), that’s going to be a trend for the entire US going forward.

The industry has more than recovered from the pandemic woes of 2020. Revenues are higher than ever with the spread of sports betting and online casinos.

Indiana among biggest gambling winners

The Hoosier State has seen enormous gaming growth in the first half of 2021.

Indiana racked up over $1.3 billion worth of commercial gaming revenue from January to June.

That’s an 18.6% increase compared to the same stretch in 2019. The AGA used 2019 for its comparison since 2020 wasn’t exactly a normal year for casinos around the country.

Overall, Indiana’s revenue numbers are some of the highest marks in the US. Only four states have made more money so far this year:

  • Mississippi ($1.37 billion)
  • New Jersey ($2.1 billion)
  • Pennsylvania ($2.2 billion)
  • Nevada ($6 billion)

Fifth place is a big accomplishment for Indiana, especially considering that it doesn’t have online casinos to compete with some of the other top earners.

Sports betting boosts Indiana gaming revenue

Indiana can thank sports betting for part of its 18.6% revenue increase.

Sports betting at casinos got its start in the Hoosier State back in September 2019. Online wagering began just a month later.

Sports wagering has racked up over $137 million worth of revenue so far this year. That’s extra income that didn’t exist for the state back in 2019.

However, that $137 million is only a small chunk of Indiana’s $1.3 billion in gambling revenue.

Sports betting isn’t as profitable as in-person or online casinos. It’s an important piece of the gaming industry puzzle, but it only makes up a small portion of the overall revenue.

Indiana will have to finally legalize online casinos in order to compete with other top revenue states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Indiana online casinos are the next step

The Hoosier State’s gaming revenue might be up almost 19% so far this year, but that’s nothing compared to what’s going on up in Michigan.

Indiana’s northern neighbor has seen an explosion of growth thanks to its online casinos.

According to the AGA report, revenue is up 66% so far in 2021. That’s over three times higher than Indiana’s growth rate.

Granted, not all of that growth is from online gaming. Much like Indiana, Michigan recently added sports betting as well, so a smaller chunk of the revenue is also coming from that side of the business.

Indiana’s $1.3 billion in revenue is slightly higher than Michigan’s $1.2 billion haul, but the Hoosier State has a key advantage that made that possible.

Right now, Indiana has 12 different commercial casino options to pick from.

Most of Michigan’s gaming spots are tribal casinos. That leaves the state with only three casinos in the Detroit area that qualify for this AGA report.

Even with that massive disparity in options, Michigan is still gaining on Indiana when it comes to overall revenue.

The difference-maker here is online casinos. They’re wildly more profitable than sports betting, and they’re responsible for a huge chunk of Michigan’s revenue numbers.

Indiana lawmakers made a push to legalize online gaming this year, but ultimately fell short.

While 19% revenue growth is nothing to sneeze at, 66% is even better.

If Indiana legislators see the success of its neighbors, maybe the online casino bill will finally get off the ground.

Photo by Associated Press
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

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