Jubilation broke out among the dozens of people lined up at 12:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, Sept. 1, at the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, Indiana. That was the moment the Indiana sports betting became a reality.
Some patrons had been at the Ameristar for the express purpose of being among the first to place legal bets since the prior afternoon, staying overnight in the casino’s hotel. Three hours prior to the sportsbook’s opening, they could be seen grabbing odds sheets.
The buzz of activity showed a great amount of interest for sports betting in the northwest Indiana area. The timing of the launch definitely played a factor.
Timing for the Indiana sports betting launch was perfect
After the legislation was enacted to legalize Indiana sports betting, Indiana casinos wasted no time in getting their sportsbooks ready. Ameristar is a great example of that.
Jaime Williams, vice president of marketing, commented on the process.
“It took about six weeks total once we started. It was a pretty quick process once it was approved in Indiana and we identified a space. We got that approved and ready to open today.”
The launch came a day after Indiana University and Purdue began their college football seasons. The schedule has Notre Dame starting its 2019 campaign a day after the launch.
More importantly, however, the Chicago Bears begin their 2019 quest, and the 2019 NFL season, on the Thursday after the launch date. The Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts get going the following Sunday.
Launch of sports betting in Indiana not mere coincidence
Launching sports betting in concert with the advent of football season essentially allows the casino sportsbooks to hit the ground running. Ameristar planned on exactly that.
Ameristar has a grand opening planned for Thursday, with former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka and player Devin Hester on site. Williams stated that along with that, the casino is running an advertising package.
There is a further incentive for Ameristar guests that now incorporates the new sportsbook.
“One of the best things that we were able to do is integrate our sportsbook into our My Choice program,” Williams said.
“It’s one of the best casino loyalty programs. Our guests who do come in and have a My Choice card, when they place their bets, they will be able to earn tier points and My Cash, which is part of our loyalty program. We’re excited to be able to offer that to anyone who comes in here.”
The benefits of Ameristar’s partnership with Kambi are complemented by the ease of access on the property.
Sportsbook details at Ameristar East Chicago
In addition to the five betting windows inside the actual sportsbook area, and seven betting kiosks throughout the facility.
Five are located in the main pavilion adjacent to the sportsbook area. Another is on the main gaming floor, and one is inside the sports bar.
Kambi sets the bets, but Williams says that all bets allowable by Indiana law are offered. Because of the timing, much of the initial action will likely revolve around football moneylines and futures.
Speaking of the future, many in the Hoosier State are probably wondering when they will be able to place bets online.
Penn National, which operates Ameristar, has already made preparations for that.
Indiana mobile sports betting a matter of when, not if
Indiana law allows for mobile sports betting. The products aren’t live yet, however.
Penn National made a deal with several sportsbook operators in late July. Among them are DraftKings, PointsBet, theScore and The Stars Group.
As part of that deal, Penn set up a priority order for its online skins. The Stars Group got first priority in Indiana, followed by PointsBet and theScore secondly, then DraftKings in a tertiary place.
Indiana residents and visitors will be able to access those platforms when the Indiana Gaming Commission approves. There’s no set date for that approval, yet. Williams stressed that Ameristar will be ready upon approval, however.
In the meantime, casinos like Ameristar are focused on maximizing the impact of their land-based books. It’s just one part of a whole for them.
“Obviously in Indiana and in Illinois, there are going to be people who are attracted to sports wagering,” Williams added. “It’s something for us to be able to offer our guests along with everything else we have. It makes it a more complete package for someone when they’re here.”