If Industry Experts Are Right, IN Online Casinos Are On The Horizon

Posted on May 17, 2024 - Last Updated on May 21, 2024

Thanks to some unforeseen roadblocks, online casinos remain illegal in Indiana. But one thing is certain: Industry experts believe iGaming is the future of gambling, in Indiana and beyond.

Gaming executives at the SBC Summit North America earlier this month shared their thoughts on where the industry is headed. That included Fanatics Betting & Gaming Vice President Brandt Iden.

“IGaming is paramount. This is the direction the industry needs to go to be successful, and this is where consumers want it to go.”

Indiana is expected to follow that logical path when it expands gambling opportunities in the state. Once lawmakers can get beyond recent political betting scandals and overcome the myths associated with iGaming, Indiana residents will finally have a chance to play their favorite casino games from the comfort of their homes.

Mobility and Tax Revenue Top Reasons for Legalizing Online Casinos

There’s little doubt Indiana online casinos will be legal soon. Pressure is mounting for lawmakers to act sooner rather than later.

That pressure is being felt across the country, said Bally Corporation Vice President Elizabeth Suever at the SBC Summit.

“People are comfortable basically running their entire life off their cellphone. This is where gaming is going.”

Through sweepstakes and social casinos, online casino gaming is already available in most states. Indiana sweepstakes casinos are an option for those in the state.

The only difference between them and online casinos is that real money isn’t wagered. As a result, state coffers are missing out on millions of dollars that would come from an online casino industry.

Cesar Fernandez, a senior director at FanDuel, pointed out at the summit that as COVID-19 aid starts to dwindle, states need to explore other revenue options. Most don’t want to raise taxes on residents. The solution can be found in iGaming, Fernandez said.

“Since 2018, FanDuel has paid $3.2 billion in taxes. That’s a lot of teacher salaries, a lot of police officers and firefighters.”

A report by the Spectrum Gaming Group commissioned by the Indiana Gaming Commission found that online casino operators in the Hoosier State could collect $880 million each year. By the third year, they could be seeing close to $1 billion a year.

That translates to a significant amount of tax dollars for Indiana. It could collect over $175 million in annual tax revenue from iGaming by its third year of operation. And that’s at a 20% tax rate. A higher rate would result in even more revenue from iGaming.

Overcoming the ‘Cannibalization’ Myth

One argument against online casinos is the notion of ‘cannibalism.’ Opponents contend that brick-and-mortar casinos would suffer if iGaming becomes legal.

That belief has not been borne out in the states that have legalized online casinos.

Furthermore, US Managing Director of NeoGames Group Ouincy Raven sees the cannibalization argument as ridiculous on its surface.

“That’s not cannibalization, it’s just competition.”

Betting Scandals Delaying the Inevitable

Betting scandals in Indiana have slowed the process of legalizing iGaming.

According to Senate President Rodric Brady, these incidents have also eroded residents’ confidence in the “integrity of the statehouse.”

Recently, Vigo County treasurer candidate Billy Joy’s prior conviction involving illegal gambling came to light just before the primary election. He was convicted of hosting unregulated card games a decade earlier.

On an even bigger scale, Indiana Sen. Sean Eberhart pled guilty to charges of bribery involving a casino company in November. He was a part of the Indiana General Assembly for 16 years before his conviction. He took money from Spectacle Gaming in exchange for working to pass laws favoring gaming.

In 2022, former state Sen. Brent Waltz received illegal campaign contributions from a casino operator.

Pressure Mounts Despite Efforts to Slow Process

Despite an agreement in the Indiana General Assembly to halt discussions on expanding gambling this year in light of the scandals, one representative still filed a gaming bill.

Rep. Alan Morrison introduced House Bill 1048, which would address what he deems “various gaming issues.”

While HB 1048 is not about online casinos, it shows that gaming is still fresh on lawmakers’ minds. Taken with comments from gaming officials at the SBC Summit, it seems that pressure continues to build to legalize iGaming.

BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt has called out the state for delaying the inevitable.

“We’ve been both surprised and disappointed in the past in this regard, (with) recent disappointing news in Indiana.”

The pressure will continue to mount against states that refuse to see the future of gaming.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who currently works for the USA Today Network. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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