Not every state has a unique sporting event that it can call its own.
Indiana’s Little 500 certainly falls into that category.
Over 20,000 fans flock to the annual bike races at Indiana University every year.
“Little Five” basically acts as a huge celebration to wrap up the academic calendar.
The races themselves are incredibly competitive despite the party-style nature of the event for fans. So much so that Little Five tends to attract some high-profile guests like Barack Obama.
Since Indiana has legal online sports betting, that gives Hoosiers a chance to bet on bike racing events throughout the year.
Big events like the Tour de France are on the board, but what about Little 500?
Can you bet on the Little 500 races?
This year’s Little 500 races are taking place on May 26.
The women’s race will begin at noon with the men’s race following at 4:00 p.m.
Despite the event’s popularity in the state, you will not be able to bet on the Little Five this year in Indiana.
That’s because the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) hasn’t approved the event for wagering.
So what’s the holdup? Why hasn’t the IGC given things the green light?
In a nutshell, it’s because sportsbooks haven’t asked.
The commission has a process to approve new betting events, and it all starts with the legal sportsbooks in Indiana.
The companies themselves have to ask the IGC to approve a new event.
Once the request is in, the commission will take a look to make sure that everything falls in line with the state’s sports betting rules.
The IGC will either approve or deny betting on the event depending on how that review goes.
According to Dennis Mullen, the IGC’s director of sports wagering, none of the state’s sportsbooks have put in a request for Little Five betting.
“The Commission has a process in place for operators to request new markets and we review all requests to ensure compliance with internal requirements, statute, rules and directive. To date, no operator has made a request regarding the Little 500, so we have not engaged in any analysis.”
Without a request from one of Indiana’s online sportsbooks, the IGC can’t get the ball rolling on approving Little Five.
Not enough Little Five betting interest
The fact that none of the state’s sportsbooks have tried to add Little 500 betting is disappointing.
The races are a huge event in state, and they’re something unique to Indiana.
Despite that, sportsbooks just don’t think that the event would generate enough betting interest. It’s not on their radar as far as worthwhile gambling events go.
“Unfortunately the Little 500 bike races at Indiana University are not something our Sportsbook will be offering,” DraftKings told PlayIndiana.
MGM sports betting app shared a similar disinterest when it comes to the event.
“At this time, BetMGM does not have plans to post odds for the Little 500.”
After all, bike racing holds a pretty niche corner of the sports betting world.
The sport doesn’t even have its own category on Indiana sports betting revenue reports.
Bike racing’s numbers get lumped into the “other” category along with sports like soccer and hockey.
It’s understandable why sportsbooks wouldn’t jump at the chance to offer Little 500 odds, but that could end up being a missed opportunity.
More companies like Barstool Sportsbook launching in Indiana are only making the market more competitive.
Offering odds on an Indiana tradition like Little Five could be a fun way for sportsbooks to try and stand out from their competition.
Little 500 attendance plays its part
You can’t bet on the Little 500 races this year, but that could change in the future.
A normal year for the event could spur some more betting interest for 2022 and beyond.
The pandemic canceled the races last year, and 2021’s events are hardly back to normal.
For starters, the races usually take place in late April.
With a May 26 race date this year, IU’s campus will be empty. Graduation is already over, and Bloomington’s students are back home for the summer.
Even if that weren’t the case, the race is not allowing spectators in 2021.
Things getting back to normal could create the extra betting interest that sportsbooks are looking for.
If you’d like to bet on Little 500 races in the future, then your best option is to reach out to your favorite online sportsbook and attend the races when permitted.
If sportsbooks know that fans want to bet on the event, then they’ll be more likely to ask the IGC to let them offer odds on it in the future.
While there is no guarantee the IGC would approve the event for wagering, it’s a start.