A second sports betting bill has been introduced in Indiana for the 2019 legislative session. On Monday, Representative Alan Morrison filed House Bill 1363 seeking to authorize sports betting at riverboat casinos, racetracks with casinos, off-track betting facilities and through mobile devices.
HB 1363 is basically a companion bill to SB 439 introduced by Senator Jon Ford with a few minor tweaks. The House version calls for a 6.25% tax on in-person wagers specifically but does not assign a tax rate to mobile wagers. The senate version of the bill does not mention taxes at all.
If both bills continue successfully, they will eventually be debated and differences between the two will be ironed out before going to another vote. During this process, the bill’s final language regarding mobile and in-person tax rates will be decided. Currently, the sponsors of each bill appear to be settling on tax rates below 7%.
Under HB 1363, licensed operators will be required to pay a $75,000 licensing fee for each sports betting facility followed by an annual fee of $10,000. Once licensed, Indiana betting sites and sportsbooks may accept wagers on professional and collegiate events alike.
Interestingly, HB 1363 also includes a bit of text explaining that once a sportsbook has posted odds on an event and begins taking wagers, the sportsbook must pay all winners who book a wager at that price.
This seems to be a provision designed to avoid the type of controversy that FanDuel Sportsbook courted in New Jersey after initially refusing to pay a winner $82,000 after mistakenly posting the wrong odds on an NFL game.
No Integrity Fee or Official Data Requirements
Would-be operators and players will be glad to see HB 1363 does not call for the controversial integrity fee that has been debated in other states. Over the past year or so, some of the major leagues have lobbied heavily for sportsbooks to be forced to pay the leagues a fee equal to as much as 1% of total betting handle.
The leagues have at times argued integrity fees are necessary to offset the costs of increased oversight in a world where sports betting is legal. At others, the leagues have described integrity fees as a sort of “royalty fee” owed to them for hosting the sporting events on which sportsbooks accept wagers.
A second common request made by the leagues concerning data usage is also denied in HB 1363. A line found in the bill reads as follows:
“…a certificate holder may use data selected in its discretion to determine whether a wager is a winning wager.”
In other words, sports betting operators will not be forced to buy official data from the leagues for the purposes of grading wagers or managing in-play betting lines. This is in reference the leagues’ demand that licensed betting sites in the US be compelled to rely only on data supplied for the leagues, which would of course come at a cost.
Licensed sportsbooks would still be free to reach voluntary agreements with the leagues for data, but will not be forced to do so under HB 1363.
Other Items of Note Found in HB 1363
HB 1363 directs the Indiana Gaming Commission to craft regulations covering a variety of concerns. Some of the key topics to be addressed by Gaming Commission regulations include:
- The manners in which wagers are taken, payouts issued and odds are determined
- Standards for allowing licensed sports betting operators to accept online and mobile wagers
- Recordkeeping requirements for licensed operators
- Rules and processes for the detection and prevention of compulsive gambling
Other key points from the proposal include:
- Establish a minimum age of 21 to bet on sports in Indiana
- Sportsbooks must post signage clearly explaining the minimum and maximum wagers allowed
- Indiana Gaming Commission to begin accepting sports betting license applications beginning October 1st, 2019
- Licensed operators may begin taking wagers after December 31st, 2019
Additionally, HB 1363 lays some of the ground rules for future sports betting operators in Indiana. Some of the main takeaways there include:
- Casinos licensed to offer sports betting must designate a dedicated sportsbook area where wagers are to be taken
- Sportsbooks may employ people 18 or older to perform certain functions, but anyone dealing directly with wagering activity must be 21 or older
- Licensed betting operators may not accept wagers on high school events or other events not approved by the Gaming Commission
- Licensed operators must not allow their employees, directors or any family members of such who live in the same household to place wagers
- Athletes, coaches and other league personnel must be prohibited by licensed sportsbooks from placing wagers
- Sportsbooks and betting sites must prevent the sharing of confidential information that could impact wagering activity until that information becomes publicly available
- Sportsbooks must protect confidential customer information and wagering activity
- Suspicious betting activity and criminal conduct must be reported to the Gaming Commission immediately