The United States Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports betting in the country in May 2018 has had wide and far-reaching ramifications. This has allowed states to then enact their own laws to allow certain forms of sports betting and gambling in their territories and a number of states have followed suit. The likes of New York, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania all moved quickly to legalize sports betting, either at physical venues or online, or even both, and Indiana is also one of the states which allowed the practice, passing legislation to that effect in May 2019.
Indiana’s law allowed mobile betting as well, which was removed from early drafts of the legislation but brought back in later. At the same time, sportsbook operators were then allowed to set up at casinos, riverboats and ‘racinos’ all over the state, with 18 different locations and/or companies being given permission to operate in Indiana. In September 2019, when the law went ‘live’, so to speak, there was a total of $35 million placed in bets in the state, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission, and sportsbook operators earned $8.5 million in gross revenue for the month. You can see here for more info on this.
However, it is from October 2019 onwards when the show really took off, as many of the operators launched their websites and mobile apps for sports betting. For the month of October 2019, over $91 million was wagered in Indiana, nearly a three-fold increase over the previous month, with sportsbook operators earning over $11.5 million in gross revenue. At the same time, the activity also generated significant income for the state, which collected more than $1.1 million in tax revenue, compared to $183,000 in September.
This spike clearly shows the impact and reach that online sports betting had on the state, with people more likely to place bets online from the comfort of their homes than step out and go to designated locations. Through ‘geofencing’ technology, which uses GPS to ensure that all mobile devices on which bets are placed are within the state boundaries, the state can ensure that betting is done legally online. As the law states, one does not need to be a resident or citizen of Indiana to bet in the state, but the device on which bets are made must be physically within the state’s borders. This allows the state to correctly collect tax on those transactions.
At the same time, at present, Indiana is in a unique position as the only Midwestern state to have legalized sports betting. This has made it a destination for people from the neighboring states of Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio for sports betting. However, some of these states are moving forward with legislation, which could erode some of the revenue being made in the state. For example, Illinois has passed a sports-betting law in June 2019. However, under the provisions of the law, mobile betting licenses can only be applied for 18 months after sports betting goes live in the state, and so this gives Indiana up until 2022 or so to keep this competitive advantage and thus continue its revenue-earning streak.