Paul Hornung, NFL Legend, Helps Horseshoe Southern Indiana Open Sportsbook

Posted on: September 12, 2019, 11:20h. 

Last updated on: November 29, 2019, 01:34h.

ELIZABETH, Ind. – Horseshoe Southern Indiana celebrated its entry into legalized sports betting Thursday, as more than a hundred people lined up in the riverboat casino to be among the first to make a wager. Officials at the casino, located just outside of Louisville, Ky., didn’t have to stray far to find a celebrity first bettor for The Book, the Caesars-brand sportsbook.

Horseshoe Southern Indiana senior vice president and general manager Brad Seigel (left) shakes hands and thanks Hall-of-Fame football star Paul Hornung for helping to open The Book at the Caesars Entertainment-brand casino. (Image:

Pro Football Hall of Famer and Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung made his way to the counter. The Louisville native placed two bets. The first on Green Bay over the Minnesota Vikings. He played for nine seasons from 1957-1966 for the Packers, helping the team win four championships.

But when it came to selecting this season’s champion, Hornung went with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints actually picked Hornung in their expansion draft more than 50 years ago, but injuries forced him to retire before he could ever suit up for them.

Sports betting in Indiana officially became legal at the beginning of the month. Since then, several casinos, racinos, and off-track betting parlors have opened their sportsbooks. On Thursday, the Winner’s Circle OTB, which, like Horseshoe, is owned by Caesars Entertainment, opened in Clarksville, and the Tropicana Evansville opened a William Hill sportsbook at its casino.

‘What the People Want’

Hornung missed the 1963 season due to his penchant for gambling. He and Detroit Lions lineman Alex Karras – perhaps better known to some as the actor who played Webster’s adopted dad on the 1980s sitcom of the same name  – were among seven players who were barred for betting on football games. According to media reports at the time, a contrite Hornung admitted betting on college and pro games, sometimes risking as much as $500 on a contest.

In order to earn reinstatement back in the NFL, Hornung had to voluntarily stop attending the Kentucky Derby in his hometown during the off season.

For years, the professional sports leagues opposed legalizing sports betting, saying that it would hurt the integrity of their games. That’s why Hornung told it surprised him when the leagues, including the NFL, backtracked on that stance when the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018.

Now that it’s legal in Indiana, Hornung joked that he doesn’t have to worry about getting in trouble, like he did as a player.

I can come legally over here and make a bet on Notre Dame,” he said. “I can watch my old team play, and I can watch the Packers play.”

“It’s what the people want,” he added.

Horsehoe on the Move

The sportsbooks are, for now, set up next to the boat’s nightclub, tucked in a corner of the second floor. However, in about three months – when the casino moves onto dry land – the sportsbook will have a much larger footprint as part of a single-floor, 100,000-square-foot, $85 million integrated casino and entertainment venue that will be branded as Caesars Southern Indiana.

The move and the rebrand come as the Louisville area’s only casino faces increased competition from Churchill Downs across the Ohio River. Last year, the track opened River City Gaming, a historical horse racing (HHR) parlor about 20 minutes from Horseshoe. In the first three months after River City opened, Horseshoe’s revenue dropped by 10 percent

On Thursday, the sportsbook helped attract numerous sports fans from across the river, as several bettors donned their University of Louisville and University of Kentucky gear while coming to make wagers on college and pro football games.

“I love it,” said Tony Thompson, who came to bet on NFL games, to “My wife might not like it, but I like it.”