Retail Sportsbooks In Indiana Could Reopen In Late June And Coincide With MLB’s Return

Indiana casinos remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Thursday, 15 casinos in the country have reopened since all of them were closed at some point due to the public health crisis.

According to a public notice Wednesday, the Indiana Gaming Commission said that “no reopening dates have been determined at this time.”

On May 1, Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, announced a multi-phase process to reopen the state. The IGC said that casinos would not be among the first businesses in the state to reopen.

“Based upon current guidance, it is not anticipated that casinos will open until after the beginning of phase 4,” the IGC said. Phase 4 would include allowing social gatherings of up to 250 people.

Assuming no setbacks, the fourth phase of reopening Indiana’s economy would occur by mid-June.

The Hoosier State has 11 retail sports wagering licensees.

State of sports betting market

Indiana is one of 10 states with legal online/mobile sportsbooks, which is helping the casino industry generate some revenue during the pandemic.

In March, Indiana books reported $5.5 million in revenue off $74.8 million in handle, down 50.4% compared to $11.1 million in February revenue. The state’s figures from April will come out next week.

The retail sportsbooks were closed in mid-March, so March’s results included retail betting. April’s figures will not.

Indiana online/mobile sportsbooks — FanDuelDraftKingsBetRiversPointsBetBetMGM, and BetAmerica — took a combined $60.8 million in wagers during March. It was 81.9% of the total handle, a record percentage for Indiana’s industry.

Bets via the internet were $145.8 million in February, 77.9% of the total handle.

The sports world came to a near standstill during March, but Indiana books have adapted by taking bets on niche sports such as Russian table tennis. This week, the Indiana books began taking wagers on live baseball games in South Korea.

The UFC will return this weekend with a card in Florida, which will be a much-needed shot in the arm for the mobile betting platforms.

Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association continue to mull potential plans to have games this summer. According to ESPN, MLB games could kick off in late June or early July.

The books are desperate for content to hold them over to the NFL season in the fall. The league’s season-long schedule is to be unveiled Thursday evening.

Vigo County casino hearing

In a separate public notice, the IGC said that next week it will consider a license for a new brick-and-mortar casino in Vigo County, situated in west-central Indiana on the Illinois border.

The meeting will be held virtually on May 15.

The new casino, part of a gambling expansion package passed in 2019 that also authorized sports wagering, was originally set to be considered at a hearing in February. Regulators delayed that meeting after receiving “concerning” information regarding Spectacle Entertainment, the Indiana-based company that was the only applicant to develop the casino.

Rendering of casino — via Spectacle Entertainment

A political consultant with connections to Spectacle recently pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws, according to the Associated Press. Court documents referred to Centaur Gaming, whose executives went on to form Spectacle in 2018, as “Company A.” The court documents alleged Company A was connected to illegal 2015 campaign contributions in Indiana.

It’s unclear what the IGC has determined through its investigation.

“The Vigo County casino owner’s license will be considered at this meeting and a full agenda will be released once it becomes available,” the IGC said Wednesday. “Details concerning timing and how the public will be able to access the meeting are forthcoming and will be posted on our website.”