The Numbers Are In: Indiana Sports Betting Rivals New Jersey’s Hot Start

Posted on November 20, 2019 - Last Updated on December 6, 2019

As the Hoosier State establishes itself as a gambling mecca in the middle of the US, the gold standard in a lot of minds remains New Jersey. A comparison of these two powerhouses regarding sports betting revenue gives some insight into their relative strengths.

While there are some notable differences, there are also a lot of similarities. In the proper contextual comparison, Indiana looks to be doing just fine.

Things to remember about Indiana sports betting revenue

Indiana legal sports betting is in its third month, having launched on Sept 1. Legal sportsbooks in Indiana have only been accepting online wagers since October, however.

New Jersey’s first two months followed a similar pattern. Online betting began about a month after retail wagering in the Garden State as well.

Indiana sportsbooks benefited from a launch that coincided with the beginning of the college football and NFL seasons. New Jersey’s first full month of sports betting was July of last year.

Like New Jersey in July and August of 2018, Indiana has also benefited from the fact that none of its neighboring states currently offer legal sports betting. Proximity to major out-of-state population centers helps both markets as well.

Several Indiana sportsbooks are close to Chicago and Cincinnati, and Illinois and Ohio residents can cross the state line to place mobile bets. Similarly, New Jersey enjoyed its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, especially in online wagering.

One key difference between the two states is how sportsbooks report their numbers. This fact is an important consideration when comparing early figures in the two states. Simply put though, things look good in Indiana.

Comparing the raw numbers between the states

New Jersey requires sportsbooks to report bets placed on futures, like which team will win the Super Bowl for example, when they are placed. Indiana, on the other hand, allows its books to hold off on reporting those wagers as handle until the bets are actually settled. With that key difference in mind, here’s a look at the numbers.

  • In July of 2018, Garden State land-based sportsbooks took in over $40.68 million in wagers. The 12 licensees made over $3.84 million in revenue.
  • In Indiana in September, 10 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks reported over $35.21 million in handle. Their earnings were over $8.55 million for the month.
  • New Jersey’s handle exploded to more than $95.62 million in August of 2018 when online betting was added. Revenue increased to over $9.17 million for the same month.
  • The Hoosier State’s first month with mobile and retail betting saw $91.7 million in wagers and $11.5 million in revenue.

The most obvious takeaway at first glance is that online wagering clearly changed the game in both states. Additional insights may also be gleaned in comparing the two state’s revenue figures, shown in table form here.

 Indiana HandleNew Jersey Handle Indiana RevenueNew Jersey Revenue
Month 1 (Sept '19, July '18)$35.21 million$40.68 million$8.55 million$3.84 million
Month 2 (Oct '19, August '18)$91.7 million$95.62 million$11.5 million$9.17 million

What the comparison might mean for Indiana

The raw numbers make it appear as though New Jersey residents and visitors wagered more money and won more of those wagers. While that may be the case to some degree, it’s important to take Indiana’s total handle and revenue figures with a grain of salt.

Indiana sportsbooks didn’t have to report all the futures bets they took in during August or September. This fact could make Indiana’s reported revenue inflated as compared to that of New Jersey, which did report futures bets in their first months.

It’s also evident that Indiana is the benefactor of New Jersey’s groundwork. The Garden State worked as a trailblazer to produce a regulated sports betting market which brought national attention to the industry.

The percentages of growth of the industry in both states from the first to the second months were very comparable. If Indiana continues to follow NJ’s trend, November could be a stellar month for the Hoosier State.

New Jersey’s handle in September of last year (their third month) was over $183.94 million and revenue was more than $23.95 million. Indiana isn’t likely to grow by quite those same margins, however, as the boost reflected the beginning of the football season. November won’t carry the same promotional opportunities as last September did for New Jersey.

What’s fair to say, however, is that so far Indiana has navigated the unique qualities of its market to post growth that mirrors New Jersey’s early history. If that continues, the Hoosier State will solidify its position as a serious player in the gambling industry.

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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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