Indiana eyes igaming and poker amid $300m December betting surge


Indiana ended 2020 by becoming just the fifth state in US history to soar beyond $300m in bets during a calendar month, as the Hoosier State continues to work on legalising online casino gaming and poker.

The region’s sportsbooks took in $313.1m in December, according to official reporting, which is up 93.5 per cent from $161.8m year-on-year and shatters the previous handle record of $251.4m set a month earlier.

This ensures that the jurisdiction ended the previous year with four consecutive record months, more than $1.75bn in bets, and over $2bn in lifetime wagers.

“Nothing could have recouped the revenue losses from the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament and much of the baseball season,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com

“But a lot went right this fall for sportsbooks, and it was on full display in December. The Indianapolis Colts, Notre Dame and Indiana football all continued to attract significant wagering.

“Then a full month of college basketball, which is more important in Indiana than most anywhere else, and the start of the NBA season added a year-end boost. The strong finish made it so that 2020 represented a big leap forward despite all the challenges.”

December’s wagers generated $24.1m in adjusted gross operator revenue, nearly doubling the $12.1m set in December 2019. The month’s bets yielded $2.3m in state taxes.

For the year, Indiana’s retail and online sportsbooks produced $1.8bn in bets, including $1.5bn in online wagering and $295.1m through retail sportsbooks; $138.4m in gross operator revenue; and $13.2m in state taxes. Since launching in October 2019, Indiana’s sportsbooks have produced $2.2bn in wagers.

“The first full year of operation for Indiana’s sports betting industry was anything but normal, but ultimately it managed to steady itself and end the year on a roll,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIndiana.com

“The state faced a pandemic that shuttered retail sportsbooks, a shutdown of major sports for four months, and a record-setting sports betting launch in neighbouring Illinois that siphoned off a key market for the state. But sportsbooks were creative in their perseverance, and it paid enormous dividends as the year went on.”

Online betting generated 84 per cent of December’s handle, or $263.1m, with DraftKings/Ameristar Casino leading the way with $112.7m in online bets and $5.1m in gross receipts.

Retail sportsbooks generated $50m in wagers, down from $51.2m in December 2019, as Hollywood Lawrenceburg led the pack with a $12m handle.

Furthermore, the region is also working to legalise igaming and poker, with online casinos lauded as a “more predictable revenue generator” than sports betting.

In Pennsylvania, gamblers bet $2.2bn on online casino games and poker in November, resulting in $59.8m in operator revenue, easily topping sports betting.

“The states where both are legal, online casinos games tend to dwarf sports betting in terms of both revenue and the money wagered,” Gouker said. 

“More is bet every month, and the win is more predictable with far fewer fluctuations from month to month. For a state like Indiana, such a dependable revenue source is unquestionably attractive.”





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