Indiana Becomes 10th State to Legalize Sports Betting

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has signed HB 1015 into law to make Indiana the tenth state in the nation with legal sports betting. Governor Holcomb could have waited just one more day and the bill would have passed into law without his signature, but he opted instead to take the active step of signing the bill on the final day he could do so.

Even getting the bill to the governor’s desk was no small task as lawmakers reported it being a difficult process. Mobile gambling was almost stripped from the bill at one point, but last-minute deals among lawmakers managed to get the mobile component reincluded.

State Senator Mark Messmer told 1070 The Fan it was not easy getting mobile sports betting included in the bill. He described it as “one of the hardest bills” he has had to work on, but said the state would have been missing out on the lion’s share of tax revenue without legal mobile betting. It seems lawmakers in other states have been paying attention to New Jersey, where mobile betting now accounts for 80% of the state’s total betting handle.

The new Indiana sports betting law is written to take effect in July when the Gaming Commission is directed to have processes in place to begin evaluating license applications. The Associated Press reports the first wagers could be placed in September, just as the Notre Dame football season is getting underway.

Key Indiana Sports Betting Rules

Indiana has taken a page out of the New Jersey playbook with rules that are similar to the Garden State. Most importantly for bettors, mobile sports betting is allowed and there is no in-person registration requirement.

Key points from the law:

  • Mobile wagering allowed across the state
  • No in-person registration requirement
  • 9.5% tax on adjusted gross revenue
  • Portion of tax revenues directed to problem gambling programs
  • Professional and college sports betting allowed
  • Wagers on eSports and amateur youth sports prohibited
  • No “integrity fee” will be paid to the leagues
  • Operators not required to buy official data from the leagues
  • Indiana Gaming Commission will issue licenses and regulate the industry
  • Operators to pay $100,000 initial licensing fee and $50,000 annual renewal fee

Governor Holcomb on Sports Betting

Governor Eric Holcomb issued a statement on Wednesday after signing H 1015 into law:

“Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology. By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers.

“Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction. I will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor for potential effects of this bill so that we can make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.”

Looking at Potential Indiana Sportsbooks and Locations

The new law is set to permit sports betting at a variety of locations including “at riverboats, racinos, a Vigo County casino, and satellite facilities.”

The licensing process will not get underway for a couple more months, but we can safely predict the following properties will be among the first to apply. These are in addition to racinos and off-track betting satellite facilities, as well as the single Native American casino, Four Winds South Bend.

In alphabetical order:

  • Ameristar East Chicago
  • Belterra Casino
  • Blue Chip Casino
  • French Lick Resort Casino
  • Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg
  • Hoosier Park
  • Horseshoe Hammond
  • Horseshoe Southern Indiana (to be renamed as Caesars Southern Indiana)
  • Indiana Grand Casino
  • Majestic Star
  • Majestic Star II
  • Rising Star Casino Resort
  • Tropicana Evansville

Indiana Sports Betting Revenue Projections

Indiana has wisely looked to New Jersey for inspiration in regulating its sports betting industry. Lawmakers made sure to fight for the inclusion of mobile gambling, which is a major win for the industry considering mobile betting accounting for roughly 80% of the NJ betting market.

That being said, state leaders aren’t overly optimistic that sports betting will provide a major revenue windfall. At most, Indiana is projecting around $20 million per year according to estimates by the bipartisan Legislative Services Agency.

State Rep. Terri Anderson (D-Anderson), told NWI that it doesn’t matter how much revenue is generated; the real benefit will come from ridding the state of illegal sports betting operations.

“Illegal sports betting is a $300 million industry in this state,” he said. “There are minors who are engaged in sports betting. We need to try to halt that practice, and one of the best ways to do it is to create our own legal framework around sports betting.”

Once again, the inclusion of legal mobile betting is key to achieving that goal of eliminating the unregulated industry. A lack of online sports betting would have made it difficult for land-based sportsbooks to compete with the convenience offered by offshore providers willing to serve the IN market from overseas.

The Fight for Mobile Betting

One of the hottest subjects debated during the passage of HB 1015 was the issue of online and mobile sports betting. It was only after a House Committee stripped mobile betting from the bill – a move initiated by Republican Ben Smaltz – and voted to allow sports betting only at casinos, that HB 1015 continued to advance.

The online betting clause was reinserted after the bill moved to the Senate committee stage at the last moment.

“If you have sports betting without a mobile app platform, you don’t really have a very usable tool,” noted HB 1015 sponsor Mark Messmer.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, a proponent for online betting, said Smatlz’s fears that gambling would expand beyond control were unfounded.

“It’s going on in our state right now anyway,” he said. “People are utilizing offshores and generally illegal facilities to do so.”

The Senate finally passed HB 1015 by a 37-12 margin on the final day of the session.

It has been a last-minute type journey for HB 1015 from the beginning, even up until the last day when Governor Holcomb decided to give the bill his stamp of approval rather than allowing it to pass into law without his signature.

Moving beyond mobile sports betting, the new law also allows one of the two casinos licensed in Gary owned by Spectacle Entertainment to move to Terre Haute.

In the meantime, the American Gaming Association has congratulated Indiana for establishing a legal and regulated sports betting industry.

“Indiana is one step closer to reaping the benefits of legal, regulated sports betting with a framework founded on a sensible tax rate and free from unnecessary league fees or carveouts,” said AGA Senior VP of public affairs Sara Slane. “The bill enables conveniences like mobile wagering and a safe alternative to the pervasive illegal market for the millions of Hoosiers who are already betting on sports.”