Sports betting is days away from becoming legal in Indiana and the state’s casinos are lining up to start collecting wagers just in time for the NFL regular season, which starts Sept. 5.
Indiana will become the 12th state—and the first in the midst of major Midwest markets—with sports betting when a new state law takes effect Sunday, Sept. 1. For now, sports betting will only be allowed on an in-person basis at casinos.
Three casinos—Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville, Ameristar in East Chicago and Hollywood Casino and Hotel in Lawrenceburg—plan to open on-site sports wagering areas Sunday.
Horseshoe Hammond will follow on Sept. 4 and French Lick Casino will launch on Sept. 6.
The Indiana Gaming Commission approved emergency wagering regulations Wednesday. Eleven of the state’s 13 casinos and all three of its off-track betting parlors have received temporary sports betting licenses. The casinos are still working to launch mobile betting apps in the state.
Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait said casino operators are working quickly to add mobile options for sports betting, but their immediate focus was on preparing for the retail launch.
WHEN WILL SPORTS BETTING START?
A flurry of sports books are set to open in early September once they gain approval from state regulators.
Caesars Entertainment is Indiana’s biggest casino operator and will be one of the first operators to launch sports betting when Indiana Grand goes live Sunday. Caesars plans to offer it at its OTB in downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday and at its Horseshoe Hammond casino just across the state line from Chicago the following day.
Rival Penn National is also jumping in quickly with Sunday starts planned for its casinos that also tap big nearby metro areas: Ameristar and Hollywood, which are a short drive from Cincinnati and its northern Kentucky suburbs.
Plenty of hoopla will accompany the openings. Boyd Gaming says former Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher will place the first bet at its Blue Chip casino in Michigan City on Sept. 5, while the Lawrenceburg casino plans a ceremony Sept. 7 with retired Cincinnati sports stars Anthony Munoz of the Bengals and Tony Perez of the Reds.
Several casinos plan to start mobile wagering this fall but haven’t set dates. How quickly mobile betting becomes available will depend largely on the casinos, Tait said.
A WINDFALL FOR INDIANA?
Iowa became the first Midwestern state with legalized sports betting on Aug. 15. But Indiana’s proximity to several large cities makes sports wagering available to more potential gamblers.
Sports wagering generally provides only slim profit margins for casinos, though operators say it is a way to help draw in gamblers. Indiana’s jump on neighboring states comes amid a $482 million—or nearly 18%—drop in gambling revenues at its casinos since 2012 amid competition from new casinos in Cincinnati and southern Michigan.
An Indiana legislative report projects that the state will collect only about $13 million a year in revenue from its 9.5% tax on the casinos’ sports bets winnings.
Sports wagering revenue has fallen short of expectations in many states that quickly legalized it after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way with a ruling last year. The tax rates range widely among states: Pennsylvania set its rate at 36%—four times that of neighboring New Jersey—and Iowa’s is near the bottom, at 6.75%.
Regulators are working on sports wagering rules in Illinois, which legalized it in June but hasn’t set a date for it to begin.
WHAT ARE INDIANA’S RULES?
The commission is expected to draft permanent sports wagering rules over the next year, but Tait said she doesn’t expect it to change much from the emergency rules.
Gamblers must be 21 or older in order to place a bet. Indiana will allow the casinos to take wagers on dozens of professional, collegiate and international events, including football, basketball, baseball, auto racing, hockey, soccer, boxing, golf and Olympic competitions. No betting is allowed on high school or youth sporting events, or e-sports.
Gamblers will have to register and prove their age with a casino before being able to use a mobile wagering app. Those online apps, however, must use geofencing technology so that the bets are placed within the state borders, meaning any Chicago residents would have to cross into Indiana each time they wanted to place a bet using their cellphone.