Indiana legalized sports betting on May 8, 2019, allowing the practice to take place at any of the state’s 13 riverboat casino venues. Less than four months later, on September 1, the first wagers were accepted.
Now, online sports betting is finally in play, too.
On Thursday, right in time for the heart of the NFL season and the start of the 2019 MLB playoffs, Indiana casinos were formally enabled to offer their gambling patrons betting odds over the Internet.
Though the approval for online gambling was in the text of SB 552 passed earlier this year, it’s taken several months for Indiana to set up a regulatory rubric to oversee that aspect of the industry.
Fortunately, it’s been worth the wait, as Indiana’s mobile betting situation appears to be reasonably customer friendly. While some states require bettors to be on the physical premises of a given gaming venue to participate in their mobile betting options, Indiana law allows for bettors to wager from anywhere in the state.
The typical KYC (Know Your Customer) and geo-fencing hurdles are in play in Indiana, with the latter being in line with the Interstate Wire Act of 1961.
In order to use online betting apps, Indiana customers will have to prove that they’re at least 21 years old and are physically located inside the state’s borders. Luckily, the technology for this is reasonably mature and shouldn’t be a hindrance to the rollout of the industry.
Currently, all of the established Indiana casinos are planning to offer mobile sports betting apps, but book launches will be staggered. The bigger companies, like DraftKings and Rush Street Gaming, are first in line.
Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive, explained that the company’s primary goal is to attract Indiana-based bettors.
The vast majority of [Rush Street] marketing will be targeted to people within the state who are going to have access to begin playing with us as soon as they’re interested.
But thanks to the reach of mobile, that audience might extend to gamblers in nearby cities outside of Indiana, like Cincinnati and Chicago. Sports bettors from these areas could simply drive across the border into Indiana, use their chosen books’ apps to verify their locations, and place wagers freely.
As Indiana is the first state to offer sports wagering in the Midwest, their mobile implementation should attract this outside clientele. After all, such is the case in New Jersey, and there’s no reason the model won’t see a successful parallel in Indiana.
That said, mobile sports betting is just a small piece of the puzzle.
All of Indiana’s casinos intend to offer online sports betting eventually, but one thing they can’t offer any time soon is legal online casino gaming or poker.
Many industry analysts view these latter pastimes as the real reasons behind the rise in domestically regulated Internet-based sports wagering, as traditional gambling has a much higher margin.
By successfully offering online sports betting, Indiana hopes to convince its legislators to draft rules for and approve online casino gaming. It’s a long-haul proposition, but with Thursday’s developments, Indiana is well on its way.
Nevertheless, it could be years before Indiana and most other states offer their own legitimate online casinos. The barriers are higher, and regulators are far more wary of digital slots and table games than they are of sports betting.
As is commonplace in the context of US gambling laws, however, Indiana legislators have not addressed external competition in structuring their state statutes. For example, despite legalizing land-based and domestic online sports betting, Indiana did not simultaneously bar offshore casino gambling or sports wagering.
The logistics of doing so are possibly prohibitive, but until the state is able to keep all Indiana betting inside Indiana, local venues and online operations will continue to lose out to bigger and better options offshore.
Today, if you want to wager on sports online in the Hoosier State, you can do so with a local provider. However, if you want to enjoy any other kind of casino or cardroom action, you’ll need to see what the unregulated market has to offer.
And right now, that unregulated market is much bigger and much better.