Efforts to expand sports gambling in the United States are picking up right where they left off last year. Indiana State Senator Jon Ford has introduced a bill to legalize both online poker and online casino games in the Hoosier State.
SB 417 would permit Indiana’s 14 casinos (including racinos) to operate internet gambling sites that spread the same games as their associated land-based venues. Of course, as one would expect, the casinos will need to apply for online gaming licenses.
It would be big news if Indiana eventually legalized online poker, since we’re nearing a decade of all 50 states being allowed to do the same thing and only five have. Just four – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania – have actually launched poker rooms. Michigan has legalized internet poker and other forms of online gambling, but nothing has gone live yet. Online sports betting is imminent, but poker is likely still a long ways off because it just isn’t the priority that sports betting and casino games are.
Indiana already has online sports betting, becoming the eighth state to launch its industry in October 2019. And things have been going swimmingly. The state’s total sports betting handle (the amount wagered) for December 2020 was $313 million, the fourth consecutive record month for Indiana. The vast majority – $263 million – was from online sites.
There are a clear top four sportsbooks in Indiana in terms of total handle: Ameristar (DraftKings) at $125 million, Blue Chip (FanDuel) at $80 million, Belterra (BetMGM) at $46 million, and Hollywood Lawrenceburg (PointsBet) at $23 million.
Total revenue, the amount the sportsbooks made after paying out winning bets, was just over $24 million. Indiana reaped $2.3 million in taxes.
For the year, Indiana’s first full year with sports betting, Hoosiers bet a total of $1.7 billion. And without the pandemic, that number very well could have eclipsed $2 billion. Sports leagues around the country – and around the world, for that matter – shut down in the spring, leaving barely anything for people to bet on. And with casinos shut down and fewer people willing to bet in person even when they did open, numbers, even as great as they were, were suppressed.
Football was the most popular sport for betting in December, with $101 million in handle generated. It makes sense, as football is easily the most popular sport for betting in the States. Having basketball back helped, as well, especially in Indiana, which is one of the most basketball-crazy states in the country.