The first month of legalized sports betting in Indiana went very well thanks to dollar bills blowing across the border from the Windy City. Many in the industry believed that Chicago’s proximity to the state of Indiana was going to have a major impact on how much revenue the first month of sports betting would draw. The numbers may be even more eye-popping than anticipated.
Just like the New York City metro area has a dramatic influence in the state of New Jersey, the Chicago metro area is doing the same in Indiana. Indiana sportsbooks pulled in a handle of over $35 million per the Indiana Gaming Commission. Not surprisingly, the properties with the highest handles were the Horseshoe Hammond and the Ameristar Casino.
Even with the usual traffic headaches, the 16-mile trip from the heart of downtown Chicago to the Horseshoe Hammond property takes less than an hour. The same can be said of the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, Indiana.
And guess what? The third-highest handle belonged to Hollywood Lawrenceburg, which is just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The state of Ohio has not yet legalized sports betting. Neither has the state of Illinois. Prospective bettors let their wallets speak loud and clear for the month of September, as the NFL season drew large betting handles to the sportsbooks across Indiana.
Lawrenceburg also sits just outside the border for Kentucky, another state that has yet to see the light when it comes to betting on sports. In all, those three sportsbooks accounted for nearly 56% of the September handle for the state of Indiana. Harrah’s Hoosier Park was next on the list and that is the closest major gaming property to Indianapolis.
The most exciting thing for the state of Indiana is that mobile betting just went live the first week of October. Those figures and the impressive betting handles are with retail-only wagering. That means that bettors could only place their bets in-person during the first month of legal sports betting in the Hoosier State.
Now they can bet from the comforts of home. Chicago residents that get set up with an app now simply have to get across the border of Indiana to place bets as opposed to going to the betting venue, parking, going in, waiting in line, and all of the other things that go along with placing a bet. They can just get to a parking lot off the freeway and place a bet if they want.
The parallels to New Jersey and the NYC Metro area are just staggering. These population centers that border states with legalized sports betting are simply going to make the short drive. Legislators in Illinois have to be seeing this. After all, with Indiana’s tax rate, the state pulled in over $800,000 in the first month. With the convenience and ease of online sports betting through apps like DraftKings, that number is only going to increase.
Of course, not all of the money came from Chicago, Cincinnati, or residents from bordering states, but the more than $8 million combined handle from the two casinos closest to Indianapolis should be a sign for states like Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky to get going with their sports betting bills.
Three casinos in Indiana didn’t even pull in any sports betting handle, but that will cause this number to rise again in future months. Belterra is also pretty close to Cincinnati and that handle should also increase in subsequent months with weekend warriors heading to the sportsbook. Still, the biggest windfall will come from mobile betting and October will be the first month with those figures, so it will be very fascinating to see much that drives up the handle.
Remember that handle means total bets taken. The taxable stuff for the books is the AGR, or adjusted gross revenue, after the bets have been graded and winnings have been paid out.
New Jersey and its revenues may not have felt relatable to a lot of states, especially those in Middle America, but now representatives, senators, and governors can see what the potential of sports betting is in their respective states and this has to be a big positive for consumers.
We’ll continue to monitor how Indiana does going forward and also see how the addition of online sports betting boosts these numbers right here at ATS.