By: Giavonni Nickson
All bets are on this season as Indiana jumps ahead of neighboring Illinois with plans to launch legalized sports betting in early September. Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana’s largest casino, plans to be the first to give sports fans a chance to legally bet on their favorite teams.
The Indiana Gaming Commission is expected to approve the state’s sports wagering regulations on August 28, allowing legalized betting to begin on September 4, just one day before the Chicago Bears battle the Green Bay Packers in the first NFL regular-season game of the year.
On game day fans will have a chance to sit in Horseshoe’s 5,300-square-foot sports book, on its casino floor, surrounded by 16 TV monitors, each 85 inches.
Across the nation 10 states already have active full scale legalized sports betting. This trend is now sweeping across the Midwest as Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio recently introduced sports wagering bills that have not yet passed.
Over the past decade Indiana’s casinos have faced increased competition from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. According to Governor Eric Holcomb, “Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does, from surrounding states due to new technology.”
The new law allows for both mobile and in-person sports wagering. Indiana residents who choose not to bet will still reap the benefits of this legislation.
“By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers,” said Governor Holcomb. “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.”
Indiana and Illinois both recently passed the bill but Indiana maintains a competitive advantage.
Indiana’s sports wagering legislation was approved on April 25 and signed by Governor Holcomb on May 8. Illinois passed its sports wagering legislation months later in July which put the state behind. While Indiana sports wagering moves into full effect, Illinois will take several months to adopt necessary regulations before accepting sports bets.
As the bill is written now, Illinois casinos are forbidden from taking wagers on Illinois college sports. However, in Indiana fans can bet on both professional and collegiate teams like Indiana University, Notre Dame University, Butler, and Purdue University.
Indiana law and regulations will allow sports wagering by anyone 21 years or older at a casino or by mobile devices after a bettor has registered with a casino in the state. The online apps are only allowed to operate within the state borders. Illinois residents will have to cross the state line into Indiana whenever they want to place a bet on their cell phones.
“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 Sara Slane, former senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association (AGA).
As compared to slot machines and table games such as blackjack, sports wagering generally results in smaller profit margins for casinos.
Indiana’s tax is currently 9.5 percent on casino sports bets winnings. According to an Indiana legislative projection report, the state will collect about $13 million a year in revenue from taxes on winnings. That projected revenue is meager when compared to the $430 million in wagering taxes that were collected last year from table and slot games.
Indiana has 13 licensed casinos and three off track betting locations that could potentially offer on-site sports wagering.
Blue Chip Casino
French Lick Resort Casino
Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg
Horseshoe Southern Indiana
Indiana Grand Casino
Majestic Star II
Rising Star Casino Resort
It has not yet been announced when other regional casinos will open their sports books.
Giavonni is a passionate freelance writer native of Gary IN. She covers business, politics, and community schools for the Chicago/Gary Crusader.