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While in committee, Indiana lawmakers passed an amendment to remove the mobile-betting section of the state’s sports gambling bill that is currently being debated.
The failure to adopt online gambling in Indiana comes at a time when many states are having the same dilemma whether to regulate sports betting through an easy-to-obtain app.
Some state senators were furious at the move, calling the removal shortsighted and not understanding of the illegal wagering already done via smartphones.
”Much of (sports betting is done) on cellphones, using illegal apps,” Jon Ford, Republican State Senator said during the committee’s hearing.
“There are right now in Indiana a little over 100 illegal apps that people can use to bet on sports,” Sen. Ford later added.
Sen. Ford believes that the state has a responsibility to regulate and tax the revenue that is currently going to illegal bookmakers.
Estimates given by Sen. Ford at the hearing put total illegal sports betting in Indiana around $300 million per year.
With the removal of the online provision, Ford says the illegal bookmakers will continue to prosper.
“For the illegal sports wagering market, that amendment (removal) is a huge boom for them,” Ford said. “It will allow them to grow their business and continue.”
Other state senators called Ford’s accusations exaggerated and feel that regardless of regulation that illegal bookmaking will continue to be successful.
“I don’t know that having electronic sports wagering be legal, stops the illegal bookmaking,” state Rep. Ben Smaltz said.
“Illegal bookmakers can take credit. They can do it over the phone. It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or not,” Rep. Smaltz continued.
Simply put, the argument by some legislators that online sports betting is needed to regulate the entire betting market in the state, including illegal bookmaking is rejected by lawmakers like Rep. Smaltz.
Rep. Smaltz has become the face of the opposition to mobile gambling in Indiana, and he has reservations if residents even want the addition of this provision to the bill.
“I think that the public has to make the decision on if they want wagering available throughout the four borders of the state of Indiana,” Rep. Smaltz told Legal Sports Report.
”I think the answer to that in a lot of places is probably not,” Smaltz added.
One of the lower key yet critical subtractions from the Indiana proposal was the forced use of official data supplied by the professional sports leagues.
Leagues have stated that by paying for and using their official stats the bookmakers will assure integrity in the state’s wagering.
But critics of the forced stats amendment claim that it is unnecessary for bookmakers to need that seal of approval as most sportsbooks can handle certification of results on their own.
“I would suggest to you that, at the level of wagering today, if there were integrity problems that have ensued we would read about them all over the place – it would be very evident,” said Matt Bell of the Casino Association of Indiana.
Now that online gambling has been dispatched from the bill, lawmakers continue to debate the bill through the state’s legislative process with no real end in sight.
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