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Industry Updates

No Sign of Cannibalization As Indiana Sets Sports Betting Records

When Illinois entered the legal sports betting scene in March 2020, analysts weren’t quite sure how neighboring Indiana’s market would hold up. The big concern was, would Indiana lose a significant number of online sports bettors once Chicagoans could place their bets at home rather than make a short trip across the border?

So far, the Hoosier State is holding its own.

While Indiana’s market has been impacted, especially with Illinois’ decision to drop in-person registration requirements at casinos (more on this in a moment), the state managed to report $230 million sports betting handle and 421.1 million in revenue in October 2020. Both tallies were new records.

Illinois was expected to become a significant player in the legal US sports betting field, and if the past few months’ numbers are anything to go by, it hasn’t disappointed.

Illinois set a record of its own in September, with bettors wagering $305 million, and is expected to eclipse that total when the October revenue report is released.

Taken together, the two markets are growing in unison, rather than online access in Illinois cannibalizing Indiana’s sports betting industry.

Illinois Sports Betting: A Recap

To recap, gamblers have been allowed to place wagers on sporting events at seven of Illinois’ casinos and one horse racing track since March this year. By law, they were required to register for mobile accounts in-person at one of the casinos for the first 18 months. The pandemic changed those plans.

Beginning in June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker changed the in-person registration rule through temporary executive orders. That allowed bettors to register online from their phones – opening the doors for immediate remote wagering from anywhere within the state’s borders.

How Did Indiana Do in October 2020?

The Hoosier State has been affected by Illinois’ entry as a sports betting state- as was expected – but is doing well despite the addition of its more populous neighbor. Sportsbooks in Indiana reported record months in handle and revenue in October.

Since Indiana’s sports wagering industry launched in September 2019, a total of $1.6 billion has been bet on sports at the state’s licensed sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps. 

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission’s report covering October 2020:

  • Sports betting handle hit $230.9 million.
  • Revenue was $21.1 million.
  • Mobile handle represented the bulk of the total, accounting for more than 86% of total bets in October ($193 million).
  • Two familiar names are leading the way, as DraftKings took the top spot and FanDuel came second.

COVID-19 Forces a Change in Plans

Indiana knew that Illinois would prove to be tough competition, but pre-COVID, nobody expected the market to be a threat this soon.

However, those predictions were based on the fact that Illinois’ law required in-person registration for the first year and half of the industry being in operation. That soon changed with Governor’s Pritzker’s decision to allow remote registration as early as June 2020. The change allowed Chicago sports bettors, who were previously crossing the border to place mobile sports in Indiana, to register an account at Illinois sportsbooks from the comfort of their homes.

Pritzker has reauthorized the temporary remote registration order several times throughout the pandemic, allowing it to lapse for a few days just once.  

Even with Illinois in play, analysts expect Indiana to continue trending upward, especially considering football’s popularity in the state.

Other factors that may positively impact Indiana’s numbers include:

  • The continued maturation of the still burgeoning market.
  • Cross-border play from Ohio and Kentucky, as neither state has a legal sports betting industry of its own just yet.
  • More mobile sportsbooks are expected to enter the Indiana market in the future, which will increase marketing activity and present players with more betting options.

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