Recently, Terre Haute residents voted to allow a casino to move into their community. This was one outcome of House Bill 1015, passed by Indiana lawmakers during the 2019 legislative session.
Another feature of HB 1015 was sports wagering, which became legal at sportsbooks, casinos and off-track betting locations on September 1. During the first month, Hoosiers bet more than $35.2 million on sports including $20.7 million on football, $9.8 million on parlay bets (i.e., bets on multiple sporting events) and $3.4 million on baseball.
HB 1015 had a technology component to it as well. It authorized online and mobile sports wagering, which means those of legal age can place bets on sports from a phone, tablet or computer as long as they are within Indiana’s state lines.
The Indiana Gaming Commission issued “Go Live” authorizations to DraftKings and Rush Street to launch their mobile applications on October 3 and to FanDuel, which debuted on October 22. The result? Indiana sports betting “handle” surged 160% in October to $91.7 million!
DraftKings led the way with $39.3 million in handle, which was 43% of all sports wagers placed in the state. Rush Street (aka BetRivers.com) and FanDuel took $6.3 million and $2.4 million in bets, respectively.
- Casinos, racinos and OTBs may contract with up to three “vendors” to accept sports wagers online (e.g., Rush Street operates under French Lick Resort, DraftKings under Ameristar East Chicago and FanDuel under Blue Chip Casino).
- Individuals must be 21 years of age and physically located in Indiana to place bets.
- Individuals may download sportsbook apps or place bets via a sportsbook’s web site.
- In order to bet, individuals must have their mobile device’s location services turned on so the app’s geolocation feature can ensure the bet originates in Indiana rather than another state where wagering might be illegal.
- Individuals can bet on nearly any sport including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and golf, as well as international sporting events that are not common in the U.S., like cricket or rugby.
- Wagering on esports or amateur athletes under the age of 18 is prohibited.
There are public policy pros and cons to sports wagering. On the one hand, the state earned an additional $1.1 million in tax revenue in October. Prior to HB 1015, the state was unable to benefit financially from activity that was already occurring. Revenue is bolstered by the legalization and regulation of online and mobile betting, crucial to the health of Indiana’s sports wagering market, as evidenced by the 160% increase in handle over September.
However, sports wagering opens another door for gambling problems and scandal. On October 10, Purdue’s board of trustees approved the adoption of a policy that bans faculty, staff and non-athlete students across the university system from gambling on sporting events involving any Purdue teams, coaches or student-athletes. NCAA rules already prohibit wagering by certain officials of a university, student-athletes and coaches, among others.
Time will tell, but for this author HB 1015 is Exhibit A for how lawmakers can leverage technology to grow the state’s coffers.