In the wake of several unsuccessful attempts to pass online casino legislation over the past three years, Indiana lawmakers are now considering a different approach.
The new game plan? Embedding Indiana online casino components into a larger, all-encompassing gaming modernization bill slated for 2024.
Indiana Lawmaker floated online casinos at national meeting
Indiana Sen. Jon Ford hinted at this fresh approach during his recent speech at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) meeting in Denver. As the current NCLGS president, Ford underscored the necessity of transforming and modernizing Indiana’s gaming landscape.
The new comprehensive bill is expected to cover several aspects of the Indiana gaming industry. According to Ford, these could include strengthening responsible gambling funding, enhancing athlete protections in the realm of sports betting, tightening advertising restrictions for sports betting operators, and moving under-performing casinos to more favorable locations.
An earlier Indiana casino modernization bill was successful in 2019. It was responsible for legalizing sports betting in Indiana and allowed two riverboat casinos to relocate inland, transforming the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana into the state’s top revenue generator.
Online casinos have hit roadblocks in Indiana so far
However, online casinos haven’t enjoyed a smooth journey in the Hoosier state thus far. Efforts to push online casino legislation in the House during the last two years have stumbled due to various challenges, including a lack of support from Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray.
Rep. Ethan Manning, who initiated the House bill, found himself unable to secure the necessary backing to progress past the committee stage. Manning emphasized that the delay stemmed from a need for better public and legislative understanding of the issue’s importance.
Despite the roadblocks, both Manning and Ford are optimistic about the online casino bill gaining momentum. By addressing other areas of legislative concern within a comprehensive modernization bill, the hope is to generate wider support.
Despite challenges, online gaming has compelling arguments
One of the most significant challenges to overcome is the concern that online casinos would cannibalize the revenue of brick-and-mortar casinos. Evidence from states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey has shown that both retail and online casinos can thrive simultaneously without impacting each other’s profitability.
In fact, online casinos may actually bolster retail casino growth. For instance, Caesars has reportedly seen over $200 million in wagers at its retail locations from customers drawn in digitally. Meanwhile, 40% of new sign-ups to the MGM Rewards loyalty program come from BetMGM online and mobile users, according to MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle.
A compelling argument for online casinos is the potential economic windfall for the state. States where online casinos are legal often see tax revenues that triple those made from sports betting.
As Indiana legislators revisit the drawing board for a gaming modernization bill in 2024, the potential economic boon from online casinos could sway some opinions.