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The hits just keep on coming and the records just keep on falling. That is, for US states announcing record sports wagering handle achieved per month.
The latest and greatest was Indiana, which topped the $300 million plateau for the first time, increasing their wagering handle by almost 25% from November.
Overall, sports wagering in the Hoosier state reached a milestone total handle of $313.1 million in December, recording a $62 million increase from the previous month’s $251.4 figure. December’s handle was up a startling 113% vs. the previous year’s mark of $147.3 million.
Looking at the yearly totals, Indiana has accumulated $1.8B in handle with a remarkable $1.5B of that amount in online wagering. That produced $138.4 million in total gross operator revenue and $13.2 million in taxes for Indiana. Since the inception of legalized wagering, Indiana sportsbooks have accepted a total of $2.2 billion in wagering handle.
DraftKings/Ameristar Casino led the way with $112.7 million in December handle, up from $95.2 million the previous month. That wagering provided $5.1 million in revenue, a decrease from $7 million in October.
Reflecting the large difference in retail/onsite wagering, all retail sportsbooks combined totaled $50 million in December wagering, down slightly from $51.2 million in December 2019.
Most obvious was the overwhelming shift toward online wagering brought by the continuing effects of COVID-19 upon the sportsbooks. The pandemic closed all onsite sportsbooks for an extended period combined with competition in some state areas from bordering Illinois. Also, pro sports themselves were shut down during the early 2020 months before gaining momentum in July into the NFL and NCAA football seasons. Of course, the NCAA Basketball Tournament was a big loss, as it was for all US states bringing on sports wagering.
Local sports teams being identified is important to Indiana with Notre Dame and Indiana University a boost to wagering. As part of the process, the Indianapolis Colts signed on with two sportsbook operators to promote the team and to drive new wagering action.
PointsBet was named as the official sportsbook partner of the Indianapolis Colts in late September, giving them the full usage of the team’s IP, marks, and logos. Then in October, William Hill US announced their first NFL team sponsorship, also becoming a sports betting partner of the Colts.
Indiana is also working to legalize online casino gaming and poker. Online casino games are a more predictable revenue generator than sports betting. For example, in Pennsylvania, gamblers bet $2.2 billion on online casino games and poker in November, resulting in $59.8 million in operator revenue, easily exceeding sports wagering.
Backing those numbers have been the inconsistent revenue percentages all US states have been reporting for sports wagering over the past three months. While some states including Iowa and Illinois have been reporting record monthly handle, the percentages involving revenue percentage (profit) have been rather inconsistent and often difficult to forecast.
Indiana Sen. Jon Ford introduced legislation early this week authorizing internet casino games for the state’s 14 casinos and racinos, according to reports. The bill also includes online poker.
Last October, Ford said he had planned to introduce an online casino bill for Indiana after noting the state’s sports wagering success. That online casino bill did not include poker, which has since been added.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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