Indiana Lawmakers Vote Yes on Sports Betting

Indiana has joined the growing list of states close to legalizing sports betting. A bill to authorize in-person and mobile sports betting was approved in both the House and Senate on Wednesday. It now goes to the desk of Governor Eric Holcomb who needs only to sign the bill to pass it into law.

Governor Holcomb will have seven days to make a decision after he receives the bill. Based on previous comments the governor has made on sports betting, it is likely he will choose to sign the bill. As WIBC reported back in January, Holcomb does not consider sports betting a priority but also has no problem with it.

Indiana sports betting has been a topic of discussion since before the Supreme Court reversed the federal sports betting prohibition last year. Bills introduced in 2018 and earlier this year took a similar approach but couldn’t quite get past the finish line.

Indiana Sports Betting Law Highlights

If Governor Holcomb signs the bill, sports betting will be authorized at casinos, racetracks, satellite locations and online. The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) will be responsible for issuing licenses and overseeing sports betting in all its forms.

Main points from HB 1015:

  • In-person and mobile betting authorized
  • Allow wagering on professional and college sports
  • Specifically excludes wagering on eSports, high school sports and other youth sports
  • Authorizes in-play betting
  • Initial application fee of $100,000 and annual renewal fee of $50,000 for sports betting operators
  • Establishes a minimum age of 21 to bet on sports
  • The IGC will determine which occupations related to sports betting require licensing
  • Sports leagues may request the IGC to disallow certain types of wagers
  • Sports betting to be taxed at a rate of 9.5%

One other interesting provision in the bill states sports betting operators “may not cancel a wager that has been accepted, except in the event of obvious error…” The part about obvious errors stands out as New Jersey experienced a bit of controversy last year after FanDuel found itself on the hook for an $82,000 payout due to an obvious pricing error (a bet that should have been -600 was accidently priced at +75,000).

FanDuel Sportsbook originally refused to pay out the winning ticket as it was clearly a pricing error that should have resulted in an $18 payout, not $82,000. FanDuel eventually relented under withering public backlash and paid the winner, but that is not the default outcome in all jurisdictions. The UK, for example, sides with operators in cases of technical errors.

The 63-page bill also includes a number of other industry-friendly provisions for land-based casinos, such as allowing racetracks to introduce table games 18-months earlier than allowed under current law and allowing two riverboat casinos to move to more desirable locations.

Retail and Mobile Sports Betting Imminent

A report provided by Eilers & Krejcik for the IGC in October 2018 projected legal sports betting will generate $256 million per year within five years. Eilers & Krejcik also projects a total direct and indirect economic impact of $1.7 billion over the first five years after legalization.

As we’ve seen in New Jersey, where mobile sports betting accounts for 80% of the market, online betting is critical to taking full advantage of the opportunity. The report projects mobile betting in Indiana would account for 57% of the market in year one and nearly 70% in year five.

These projections highlight the impact of mobile betting and may have played a role in convincing lawmakers to change their minds on a bill approved in February that only authorized retail sportsbooks at casinos. The latest bill has been approved in both chambers with mobile betting included.

Sports bettors in Indiana will be happy to hear the bill calls for quick action. If HB 1015 becomes law, the Indiana Gaming Commission will be tasked with issuing regulations and evaluating licensing applications by July 1st with the goal being to have sports betting up and running by this fall.