State committee recommends Indiana should consider sports wagering

  • Comments
  • Print

The state interim Committee on Public Policy voted unanimously Friday afternoon to recommend the General Assembly consider legislation that allows sports gambling.

But the committee did not make specific recommendations on how sports betting should be regulated.

State lawmakers made the recommendation after hearing testimony from the NCAA, the NBA, the Casino Association of Indiana, Gaming Laboratories International LLC and the Indiana Gaming Commission on Friday.

The Indiana Gaming Commission and Gaming Laboratories International LLC presented neutral positions on the issue, but most of the other speakers agreed that sports betting should be considered by the General Assembly.

The disagreements were on the specifics of what the legislation would allow: Would operators have to pay royalties to the sports leagues being wagered on? Would mobile betting be allowed? Where would mobile betting be allowed? How would users set up mobile accounts? What sporting events would be eligible to be wagered on?

Kevin Mullally, vice president of government relations with Gaming Laboratories International, said the technology is available to customize the system however lawmakers see fit, but there’s not really any “gold standard” because it’s so dependent on the conditions in the state and priorities of government officials.

Daniel Spillane, NBA senior vice president of league governance & policy, said the league has four main requests for any regulation—that it require real-time data sharing between the operators and the league so they can better monitor suspicious activity; make sure bets are based on official data from the league; allow mobile wagering; and provide a 0.25 percent royalty to the league.

That last request didn’t seem to have support from lawmakers, though, and Matt Bell, president of the Casino Association of Indiana, said his organization would oppose such a provision in the legislation.

“To ask for a cut from casinos and a cut from the state is something we just do not support,” Bell said.

Spillane argued that because an expansion in sports gambling means the NBA has to do more ethical and integrity training and oversight, the league should be compensated for it.

But Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said the NBA should be doing those things already, regardless of compensation.

“We’re going to do it no matter what, but it’s going to cost money,” Spillane said. “The compensation is aimed at covering that.”

Bell did agree with the NBA on supporting mobile gambling. Bell said without mobile wagering, the black market may be harder to push out of the state, and he thinks the technology exists to keep it safe.

The Casino Association of Indiana also supports in-game wagering, meaning you can place bets in the middle of a sporting event; setting the sports gambling age at 21, the same age as other gambling in the state; and providing support for responsible gaming programs.

Committee members also stressed the importance of responsible betting assistance and included it in their recommendation to the General Assembly.

Mike McDaniel, representing the NCAA, said the organization wants to see legislation that encourages eliminating the illegal sports betting market, sets standards that protect the industry and consumers, limits who is/isn’t allowed to place bets (for example, referees should not be permitted to bet), and requires official sports league data to be used.

Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said he didn’t think the committee should make a recommendation that detailed how to regulate sports gambling, but instead give a broad recommendation to move forward with allowing it.

The recommendation passed 9-0 out of the committee, with one lawmaker expressing some hesitation.

“I struggle not to see this as an expansion of betting,” Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, said. “That said, I see this going forward. The momentum seems to be there.”

A report ordered by the Gaming Commission that was published just as the meeting started on Friday predicted that revenue from sports wagering in Indiana could grow to $256 million annually by the fifth year.

A direct benefit for the state was projected as well: as much as $148.1 million during the first five years from tax revenue, license fees and other sources.

The issue has gotten recent attention in Indiana and other state legislatures because in May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that restricted gambling on football, baseball and most other sports to Nevada only.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.