Casino Or ‘Racino:’ There Will Soon Be Little Difference In Indiana

Posted on December 31, 2019

On Wednesday, the advent of 2020 will signify a new day for racetrack casinos, commonly referred to as “racinos,” in the Hoosier State. Indiana racinos will add table games with live dealers on January 1.

The change effectively blurs the lines between traditional casinos and these facilities in the state. There won’t be much difference between the two types of gambling establishments in 2020.

Why adding table games is a win for Indiana racinos

Before 2020, Indiana only allowed racetracks to offer electronic versions of table games. That changed earlier this year when Indiana enacted a gambling expansion law.

The Hoosier State originally scheduled the change for mid-2021. The new law bumped that up to January 1, 2020.

It was a move meant to help racinos stay competitive in the state. A 2015 law allowed riverboat casinos to move inland, which has already happened with Caesars Southern Indiana.

On Wednesday at noon, racinos will offer all the same games that facilities like Caesars do. That includes slots and sports betting.

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy for the racinos to adapt to the new opportunities, however. If successful, though, it should prove worth the hassle.

Caesars racetrack properties hope for high ROI

Caesars also owns Harrah’s Hoosier Park and the Indiana Grand¬†racinos. Adapting the facilities to offer live-dealt table games has been no small task.

Both facilities have had to rearrange existing games, hire and train new staff and train existing staff on items like security on new policies. According to Dan Nita, regional president for Caesars, the two facilities won’t open with the same number of new offerings.

Nita says Hoosier Park will have 28 tables while Indiana Grand will debut with 42. Both facilities will offer baccarat, blackjack, craps, Mississippi stud, roulette and three-card poker.

As the investment is serious, so are the hopes for a significant return. Nita thinks the area can support two to three times as many tables as currently exist.

That’s why Caesars plans to expand both facilities. That will help the newly expanded casino brand make up the difference in the Hoosier State.

Flipping the script in terms of variety of offerings

Nita bases his estimation of the demand for table games on how well the slots fare at the two facilities. Those numbers are on par with traditional casinos in the state.

Expanding the racinos to offer as many tables as the bigger facilities will level that playing field. It could be argued that the racinos will actually have an advantage when that happens.

Those racinos will not only offer everything the “big boys” currently do, but also have something unique. That is, of course, live horse racing.

While other facilities offer betting on those events, there are off-track betting sites in Indiana for example, nothing compares with the live action for fans. The convenience of being able to place your bet and then watch the event in person adds to the excitement.

It would be far more difficult for traditional casinos to add horse races than it was for the racinos to add table games with live dealers.

Starting on Wednesday, the paradigm will shift and soon there will be little difference between casinos and racinos in Indiana.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. 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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