With Governor’s Signature Wednesday, Indiana Joins the Ranks of Sports Betting States

Posted on: May 8, 2019, 04:39h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2019, 04:39h.

Indiana became the first Midwestern state to legalize sports betting when Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law Wednesday that dealt with it and other gambling issues.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (seated, left) is shown at a 2017 bill signing. On Wednesday, Holcomb signed a bill into law that legalizes sports betting and opens the door for a casino license to move from Gary to Terre Haute. (Image: Indiana House Republicans)

In a statement regarding House Bill 1015, Holcomb said the bill will help the state’s gaming industry stay competitive against venues in neighboring states.

By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers,” he said.

Wednesday was the deadline for Holcomb to decide on a course of action for the bill. Two weeks ago, it passed both the House and Senate after legislators were able to hammer out their differences on the expanded gaming bill. That includes a provision for a casino license to move from Gary in the northwest corner of the state to Terre Haute, a central Indiana town on the Illinois border.

Sports Betting Details

With the legislation signed, Indiana joins Delaware, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia to offer sports betting, which will be allowed at riverboat casinos, racinos and off-track betting parlors in the Hoosier State. It also will allow online betting. Three other states – Arkansas, New York, and Oregon – are in the process of allowing it as well.

State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), one of the legislation’s key sponsors, told Casino.org Wednesday that he expects the Indiana Gaming Commission to have the regulations in place for sports betting by July. Then the licensing procedures would begin. Sportsbook operators, their vendors, and any sports data companies involved would need to acquire licenses.

Licenses for the casinos and their vendors will initially cost $100,000, with annual renewal fees of $50,000. Data companies will pay a $10,000 fee. The state expects to receive $1.6 million from licensing in fiscal year 2020 and $800,000 annually after that.

Ford said the goal is to begin accepting bets by the first week of September, which would coincide with the beginning of football season. However, he noted that date may be delayed a week or two depending on the amount of time the state Department of Revenue needs to set up the accounts to collect the sports wagering tax.

The state would collect a 9.5 percent tax off the adjusted gross receipts. Of the revenue, 3.33 percent will go toward gaming addiction services. Indiana officials anticipate receiving $8.9 million in revenue from sports betting starting in fiscal year 2020, which starts in July. Of that, $300,000 will go for mental health and addiction.

In subsequent years, the state expects to take in $11.5 million annually.

New Casino Coming?

In addition to sports betting, the bill also allows Spectacle Entertainment to bring its  Majestic Star riverboat casinos in Gary inland and merge them into a single facility. As a result, it also opens up a casino license for Vigo County, Ford’s home county.

First, though, the county must hold a referendum, which it can do either this November or next spring. If the measure passes, the gaming commission would release a request for proposals to identify the casino operator in Terre Haute.

Ford said he expects the referendum to pass.

“Local media polls show 70-plus percent in support,” Ford said.

The bill also allows for the state’s two racinos, in Shelbyville and Anderson, to offer table games starting in January 2020.