Indiana joined the sports betting bandwagon earlier today with lawmakers filing a bill seeking to legalize sports betting at authorized riverboats, racinos and satellite facilities on the condition that the federal sports betting prohibition is repealed, amended or ruled unconstitutional.

The bill, SB 405, wants Indiana to be ready to authorize sports betting within 90 days if the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is taken out of commission one way or another. Currently, the best shot for that happening rests with the Supreme Court as it deliberates New Jersey’s appeal to declare the federal sports betting prohibition unconstitutional.

New Jersey has been attempting to legalize sports betting for several years now, but has been opposed the entire way by the NCAA and the major US professional sports leagues. The leagues have successfully blocked New Jersey every step of the way, but lawyers representing the Garden State have appealed the decision all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Online chatter seems to be increasingly bullish that the Supreme Court may actually rule in favor of New Jersey and declare PASPA unconstitutional. If that happens, it will allow New Jersey and other states to pass legislation authorizing and regulating sports betting.

The filing of SB 405 reaffirms Indiana’s place on a shortlist of states that have been deemed likely to legalize sports betting within two years of a favorable SCOTUS ruling. If the bill passes and if PASPA is overturned, SB 405 seeks to do the following:

  • Legalization: Authorize licensed gambling facilities in Indiana to offer professional and college sports betting
  • Licensed facilities: Riverboats, racinos and their satellite facilities will be authorized to offer sports betting
  • Within 90 days: The bill orders the Indiana Gaming Commission to authorize sports betting within 90 days of the federal prohibition being repealed, amended or ruled unconstitutional
  • Licensing fee: SB 405 calls for a licensing fee of 1% of adjusted gross receipts or $500,000, whichever amount is larger
  • Annual administrative fee: Licensed sports betting operators must pay $75,000 to the Commission every year beginning one year after commencing sports betting
  • Taxes: Sports betting operators are to be taxed 9.25% on adjusted gross receipts
  • Minimum age: People under 21 years of age are prohibited from being present in an area where sports wagering is being conducted

The NCAA Won’t Be Happy About This

It’s an interesting point in noting that Indiana is home to the NCAA and is strongly opposed to any bill that includes legal betting on college sports. The NCAA also holds considerable sway in the state, what with its headquarters being just about a mile down the road from the Indiana capitol building

If it chooses, the NCAA can raise quite a stink in its home state just by threatening to move events away from Indiana. The 2021 college basketball Final Four and 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship, for example, could both be used by the NCAA as leverage in any negotiations with state lawmakers.

Rep. Alan Morrison, one of the bill’s supporters, told the Indianapolis Star recently that he plans to push ahead anyways for legal betting on college sports.

“I understand where they’ll be coming from. But it’s also important for the NCAA to understand that the landscape of gaming is changing throughout our country. I think they would hopefully have some understanding that Indiana would have rights just like the other states.

“Obviously one of biggest events for sports wagering is March Madness. If they open it up to all 50 states, there will be gaming facilities in Ohio, in Michigan, in Illinois that are all doing it.

“It would be a pretty big burden to put on our facilities [to block college sports betting].”

The NCAA is a powerful organization indeed, but state lawmakers seem intent on keeping college betting in the bill. Just stopping that from happening Indiana is no small task, let alone doing so in the numerous other states that would likely consider legalizing sport betting in coming years.

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