Major Gambling Bill Awaits Indiana Governor’s Signature

  • The Indiana Senate and House have approved an amended sports betting legalization bill
  • The bill will legalize both physical and online sports betting in the state
  • There will be an initial $100,000 license fee and an 8.5% tax rate
  • Racinos will be able to offer table games and two riverboat casinos can relocate to land-based facilities
Welcome to Indiana sign
Indiana’s Senate and House have passed a bill to legalize sports betting.Indiana’s Senate and House have passed a bill to legalize sports betting.

Traditional Gambling Landscape in Indiana

Casinos represent a major source of revenue for the state of casinos, where 14 gambling facilities are operating. When they became legal in 1993, they could only be riverboat casinos. A 2015 law change allowed them to move onto land if they wanted.

Another popular gambling activity in Indiana is the state lottery, which began in 1988. Two racetracks are still in operation, Hoosier Park and the Indiana Downs racetrack. However, horse racing as a whole in the country has been struggling for some time now with decreasing popularity.

Many tracks in the United States had to close their doors for good. Some states have made it legal for racetracks to offer video gambling machines to boost their revenues, which turns them into so-called “racinos.”

Indiana made this move in 2007, allowing the two racetracks to stay profitable while also hosting races.

Many states have considered legalizing sports betting since the end of the federal ban in May 2018. Indiana now appears to be close to doing so.

Consulting Firm Recommended Legalization

The government commissioned a study from Eilers and Krejcik, a well-known consulting firm on gambling. The goal was to see whether legalizing sports betting would be a good idea and to see what sort of negative impact it may have.

The consulting firm urged Indiana to make sports betting legal as soon as possible.

Legalization will help Indiana get ahead of neighboring states, as well as stopping the black market for sports betting from becoming deeply entrenched. The consultant also said that it is important there are fair taxes on revenues and that mobile sports betting should be legal.

The report concludes: “On balance, we believe the risks associated with delaying sports betting beyond the 2019 (legislative) session clearly outweigh the rewards.”

During the initial talks, some pushed for an integrity fee, which would be a slice of every sports bet going to the sports league staging the event. However, due to the inherent tight margins in sportsbooks, this move was rejected.

Another big issue was who could operate a sportsbook. Some wanted a closed market, while others wanted any operator to be able to obtain a license.

Finally, another key issue was at what age a person could place a sports bet. To bet on horse racing in the state, you have to be at least 18 years old. However, to gamble at one of these casinos, you need to be 21 years old.

Sports Betting Bill Very Close

Both Montana and Iowa gave green lights to sports betting bills this week and Indiana has now done the same.

On the final day of the legislative session, a conference committee of Senate and House members brought mobile sports betting back into the sports legalization bill. The Senate had removed it from Senate Bill 552.

The new bill was approved by a 37-12 vote in the Senate and 59-36 in the House. It now goes to Governor Eric Holcomb to sign it into law. Senator Jon Ford is confident that the governor will do it.

Ford said: “He will be good with the bill. He told me, if we get it to him, he will sign it.”

What Will Sports Betting Look Like?

When the governor signs the bill, it will become law and off-track betting facilities, racinos, and commercial casinos will be allowed to operate sportsbooks. Mobile sports betting will also be legal.

There will be a 9.5% tax on adjusted gross revenue, with some of the funds going to help treat gambling addiction. No sports betting will be allowed on amateur athletes who are under 18 years old.

The initial license fee will be $100,000 and there will be an annual fee of $50,000. The Indiana Gaming Commission will draw up regulations for the sector.

Other Aspects of This Bill

Senate Bill 1015 also allows two riverboat casinos, Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II, to move to Gary and Terra Haute, respectively. Bids will be accepted for the Terry Haute casino.

Another aspect of this bill is that table games will be allowed at racinos in the near future. The limit on casinos that one operator can own will be increased from two to six.