By the time the Indianapolis Colts take to Lucas Oil Stadium this fall, Hoosier State gamblers may be able to place legal sports bets both at live casinos and via mobile devices.
That’s because in May, Indiana became the second US state to legalize sports betting in 2019, after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an omnibus gambling package into law.
Now, instead of resorting to black-market bookies and shady offshore sites, Indianans will have the option of placing bets at their favorite local casinos and off-track betting parlors, or perhaps through dozens of safe and regulated online and mobile apps operated by reputable and vetted software providers.
The nascent industry will be overseen by the state gaming commission, which will begin accepting applications from interested casinos on July 1. Regulators optimistically hope to have mobile wagering up and running before this year’s NFL season, but that could be a stretch. It’s more likely that live betting will roll out at state casinos first, with online/mobile wagering launching later in the year, or even sometime after the Super Bowl.
What’s in the bill (H 1015)
Here are the highlights of the Indiana sports betting bill:
- Who can play: Anyone 21 years and up who is physically inside the state
- Betting locations: Casinos, racinos, off-track betting parlors or via Internet-connected devices
- Who will regulate: Indiana Gaming Commission
- Operator tax rate: 9.5%
- Licensing fee: $100,000 (plus $50,000 yearly)
- Where the taxes go: General Fund
Apart from legalizing sports betting, the legislation also allows for state racinos to spread table games starting in 2020, and permits new casinos in Gary and Terre Haute.
Is this bill good for players?
Unlike bills we’ve seen passed in states like Pennsylvania, and absurd proposals we’ve seen cropping up (like banning betting on Sundays), the Indiana bill sets a relatively good standard for both players and the industry.
First of all, gamblers will have the option of taking their action to a casino or OTB, or alternatively, simply playing from the comfort of home – or anywhere else inside the state, for that matter – on their mobile devices.
Some states have committed the folly of allowing sports wagering only at land-based facilities, which will do little to stop the proliferation of black-market sites, and will have a severe effect on tax revenue for the state. Case in point: In New Jersey, mobile betting accounts for 80% of all legal sports wagers.
Another win for Indiana gamblers is the fact that they can register their betting accounts directly on their Internet-ready devices. Other states, like Iowa, have passed laws which force players to physically travel to a brick-and-mortar casino in order to sign up an account.
Indeed, some casinos are under the mindset that forcing people to drive to their properties will have a positive effect on their bottom line down the road. In practice, though, all this does is deter gamblers from setting up accounts at all.
Indiana has also done a good job in terms of tax rate, charging a sensible 9.5%. This is in contrast to the Keystone State, which levies a whopping 36% tax on its operators, and Tennessee, which charges a 20% rate along with an annual $750,000 licensing renewal fee.
For players, this means that there is little chance IN sportsbooks will spread unfavorable odds in an attempt to make up the difference.
Lastly, the Hoosier state has authorized each casino licensee to serve as the umbrella for three online “skins” each. This will give players plenty of choice as to where they spend their hard-earned cash, and create a highly competitive marketplace. We envision a whole host of sportsbooks vying for customers’ attention by offering lucrative promos and sign-up bonuses.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I bet on sports in Indiana?
IN has given each of the state’s casinos, racinos and off-track betting parlors the opportunity to purchase a sports betting license. What’s more, licensed operators can then host their own sports wagering websites and mobile apps.
So if you feel like reveling in the raucous atmosphere of a live sportsbook, you’ll have plenty of options. On the other hand, if you simply like the speed and convenience of betting from home, or on your mobile, you can easily do that as well.
How old do I need to be to play?
Players must be 21 years of age and above in order to bet on sports. Upon signing up, you’ll need to provide info confirming that you meet the requirement.
This goes in contrast to daily fantasy sports sites in the state, which only require players to be 18 years old.
How many sports betting apps or brands will be available?
Each sports betting licensee has the option of partnering with up to three online skins. Therefore, factoring in the state’s 14 casinos/racinos and two off-track betting facilities, we could technically see as many as 48 total sports betting apps and brands hit the market. However, as sports betting is a low-margin business, it’s doubtful that so many brands could survive in a state with less than 7 million residents.
Does this mean betting with my bookie is legal now?
No, absolutely not. Sports betting has been legalized in Indiana, but only qualified state gambling properties may apply for a license to become regulated. Any individual or unlicensed website taking bets in the state is doing so illegally.
Can I bet from out-of-state?
In order to bet, you must be physically present inside the boundaries of Indiana. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be a resident in order to play. In New Jersey, for example, players from neighboring states regularly travel into NJ to place bets, then quickly leave and turn back for home.
Alternatively, Indiana residents don’t have carte blanche to bet on sports from anywhere in the country – once they physically travel outside of the state, they will no longer be able to bet.
How will betting websites know that I am actually inside Indiana?
Online sportsbook operators rely on sophisticated geolocation software to pinpoint the location of each player. Desktop gamblers will need to install a small piece of software which will continuously ping their location. For those on mobile devices, operators will rely on built-in geo-tracking technology to verify your location. As soon as you travel outside of the state, your access to real-money betting will be cut off.
Is DFS the same thing as sports betting?
No, daily fantasy sports sites let bettors mix and match players from several teams to create a cross-league roster. DFS players don’t battle against the house, they try and defeat other DFS competitors.
With sports betting, players can bet real money directly on the outcome of sporting events, individual plays, and much more.
DFS will remain available in the state after sports betting commences, but it might lose its luster for some.
What types of sports can I bet on?
Everything from college sports to NFL, MLB, PGA, NBA, UFC and more is all on the table. The NCAA, which is coincidentally based in Indiana, is no fan of sports betting but was unable to block gambling on its events.
There are a few restrictions, however. Bets on esports and amateur youth sports is prohibited.
What types of sports wagers are legal?
A full suite of betting options will be available in the Hoosier State, including:
- Point spread
- In-play bets
Are online casinos and poker sites legal too?
Unfortunately no, they are not. Indiana’s 2019 gambling bill legalized online sports betting only, so any internet casinos or poker sites which allow you to play from inside the state are doing so illegally. These sites are completely unregulated and can do with your money as they like, so exercise caution.
Who regulates Indiana sports betting?
The Indiana Gaming Commission, the same body that oversees the state’s physical gambling centers, has been tasked with policing both live and online sportsbooks. Unlike offshore books, you can trust that your money is in safe hands when you gamble with an officially licensed online operator.
How did sports betting in Indiana come together?
Indiana has proven itself one of the more progressive states when it comes to allowing real money “betting” on sports-related events.
In early 2016, when daily fantasy sports companies were operating in something of a gray zone in the country, Indiana passed legislation legalizing the industry in the state. It was only the second to do so, and saw other states follow its lead.
The bill was championed by Rep. Alan Morrison, and signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence that February.
Fast forward two years, and Hoosier State lawmakers had set their sights on legalizing sports betting as well, even before the Supreme Court had made its decision to strike down the law mostly limiting the activity to Nevada.
Morrison was again at the forefront of the movement, filing a bill in January 2018 which would allow online betting and charge a tax rate of 9.25%.
A month later, legislators added language which would, for the first time, mention the notorious “integrity fee” that both the MLB and NBA have been lobbying so hard for. The original IN integrity fee would have awarded 1% of total handle to the leagues – which amounts to a massive cut of operator profits – so that the organizations could, ostensibly, better police their games.
Once the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May of that year, the push to legalize sports betting in the Hoosier State went into overdrive.
A new bill was soon introduced by Senators Mark Mesmer and John Ford, and the integrity fee was later nixed. Other ill-conceived proposals were also introduced and subsequently removed as well. For instance, during the legislative process, Sen. Ben Smaltz tried to ban betting via mobile devices, something which would have crippled the industry.
He was successful in getting the option stripped from the bill for a time, but the activity was reinserted into the legislation later on during a conference committee.
On April 24, a repackaged bill, H 1015, passed the Senate by a vote of 37-12 and the House by a 59-36 margin. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law a few weeks later, making Indiana the tenth state to legalize sports betting.