HomeGambling RoundupIndiana Casinos Gear Up for Sports Betting

Indiana Casinos Gear Up for Sports Betting

Indiana casinos are working to open sportsbooks when wagering becomes legal September 1 in an effort to beat sports-betting competitors, especially in the Chicago area. Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait (l.) says 10 of the state's 13 commercial casinos and its three off-track betting sites have received temporary licenses. Bettors must register and wager on-site, with mobile and online betting coming later this fall.

The Indiana Gaming Commission will vote August 28 to approve proposed sports betting regulations. Meanwhile, 10 of the state’s 13 commercial casinos and its three off-track betting sites have received temporary sports wagering licenses allowing them to start offering sports betting on September 1—just in time for the National Football League season kickoff on September 5.

Bets on professional, collegiate and international sports events will be taken on-site, with mobile and online betting to follow later this fall. IGC Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait said, “The timing is really up to the operators. The launch will be dictated by the operators getting us the info we need to review and approve for launch. At this point, it’s too early to tell when that will be. There’s a checklist of items that need to be done before launch, and the timing is dictated on the operators getting us that required information.”

Gonso Tait added, “What we’ve heard from other jurisdictions is retail is a little bit easier to launch and it can fold into existing casino operations. We’re pleased our operators so far have really focused on retail so that we can hopefully get those activities going as close to September 1 as possible. We know Hoosiers are very excited to have access to mobile wagering, but we’re going to launch it responsibly.”

Still, the pace is intense as Indiana casinos and OTBs hope to beat competitors for sports wagering, especially in Chicago and environs, where expanded gaming was approved in June. Caesars Entertainment Regional President Dan Nita said, “There is definitely a first-mover advantage, also knowing that the NFL football season is the most popular sport to wager on. The timing of it makes sense for us to get up and running as expeditiously as possible.”

Nita said Caesars will open sportsbooks at its casino in Hammond, near Chicago, its two Indianapolis-area casinos and its casino near Louisville, Kentucky. The operations simply will be called the Book.

In 2020, Horseshoe Southern Indiana will rebrand as Caesars Southern Indiana. Also, Caesars’ two racinos near Indianapolis–Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino–will offer sports betting. Caesars’ off-track betting facilities in downtown Indianapolis, Clarksville and New Haven also will take sports wagers.

Most of Indiana’s casinos are located along Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, where operators hope to attract gamblers from non-sports betting states—Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.

Boyd Gaming spokesman David Strow said the company’s Blue Chip Casino near the Michigan border and Belterra Casino on the Ohio River near Cincinnati are setting up sportsbooks. “We’re hopeful that it will draw in customers from throughout those properties’ markets, including Michigan and Kentucky,” he said.

Despite the push, sports wagering typically does not generate significant revenue for casinos. A report for the Indiana legislature showed the state could receive about $13 million a year in sports betting revenue with a 9.5 percent tax. In comparison, last year the state received $430 million in tax revenue from slots and table games.

Under the sports wagering law, bettors must be age 21 or older and must register in person at a casino. When mobile apps and online betting become available, bets only may be placed within state borders. The gaming commission predicted at least two-thirds of sports wagers will be placed online or on smartphones; 80 percent of sports wagers are online or mobile in New Jersey.

Draft emergency rules will be finalized at the IGC’s August 28 meeting. Following that, the commission will review stakeholders’ written submissions of suggested changes. Before a casino can take its first sports bet, it must get approval for internal controls; receive certification from Indiana Testing Lab; have an inspection of data center/server storage; set up self-restriction and voluntary-exclusion programs and meet geolocation requirements.

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