Indiana Joins Growing List of States with Bills to Legalize Sports Betting if SCOTUS Kills PASPA

Posted on: January 9, 2018, 05:34h. 

Last updated on: January 9, 2018, 05:43h.

The list of states that are considering the possibility of regulating sports betting in the near future continues to grow. Indiana became the latest to introduce legislation that would take effect if the Supreme Court overturns a federal ban on sports betting ban known as PASPA.

Indiana legislator Jon Ford
State Sen. Jon Ford has introduced a bill that would legalize sports betting in Indiana if the Supreme Court strikes down a federal ban. (Image: Brazil Times)

State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) introduced SB 405 on Friday, and Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute) filed a companion bill in the Indiana House on Monday.

The legislation would allow existing facilities such as riverboats and racinos, as well as their satellite outposts, to offer legal sports betting. Despite some objections by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, there is no exemption for college sports, suggesting that Indiana sportsbooks would be allowed to offer odds on a full menu of contests.

Sports Betting Boost and Integrity Fees

Under Ford’s proposal, operators would have to pay an initial fee of at least $500,000 for a sports betting license. Then they would owe an annual administrative fee of $75,000. Finally, the adjusted gross receipts on all wagering would be subject to a 9.25 percent tax. Ford estimates that this tax would bring between $3.1 and $18.8 million each year to state coffers.

According to Casino Association of Indiana President and CEO Matt Bell, operators in the state don’t expect to make a ton of money off of sports betting. However, allowing such bets would bring in both direct revenue and attract more players to gaming venues in the state.

“Its benefit is that it will be driving customers to a property who wouldn’t be there, who will spend incrementally in other ways,” Bell told the Indianapolis Star. “That’s where the state will realize a benefit.”

One of the more interesting aspects of the bill is the obvious influence of professional sports leagues on the legislation. In Morrison’s house bill, there’s an “integrity fee” that would be paid to the NBA and Major League Baseball on a quarterly basis. The fee would be equal to one percent of all wagers made on events in those leagues.

It’s unclear whether the bill would also require that fee to be paid to other leagues or governing bodies. According to a report by ESPN, the NFL was not part of the discussions on the Indiana bill.

“We’ve certainly had some input and welcomed some advice and language that makes the leagues feel a little bit more comfortable,” Morrison told ESPN.

States Ready for Supreme Court to Act

Like most of the other bills being considered by states around the country, this legislation depends on the outcome of Christie v. the NCAA in the Supreme Court. Should New Jersey be victorious in striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), states would be free to regulate sports betting as they see fit, as they do with other forms of gambling.

A ruling is expected in the next six months.

The effort in Indiana follows closely on the heels of a similar effort in Kentucky. That legislation would allow Kentucky’s racetracks and off-track betting venues to allow sports betting, with tax revenues from these sportsbooks supporting pensions and civil services.

Indiana now becomes the 10th state with pending legislation to legalize sports betting should the Supreme Court rule in favor of New Jersey.

Three states, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Connecticut, have already passed laws to legalize future sports betting if the Supreme Court or Congress ever acts to effectively repeal PASPA.