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Indiana celebrated their one-year anniversary of legalized and regulated sports wagering within the state by setting a one-month record for money bet.
Released data Friday by the Indiana Gaming Commission reflected Hoosiers placed $207.5 million in sports bets during September, smashing the prior record handle of $187.2 million set in February 2020, and coming in nearly six times greater than the $35.2 million wagered a year ago in September 2019.
There was no doubt reasoning out the cause for celebration. Simultaneous action by all four major sports leagues following COVID-19 shutdowns earlier this year helped Indiana set a new sports wagering record as the handle was relatively evenly divided between football, basketball, and baseball. As with what is common in other states, multi-event or multi-sport parlays dominated play.
September’s result is up 489% from the $35.2 million handle the industry posted in September 2019, the first month of legal sports betting in the state. The month’s bets produced $14.3 million in adjusted gross revenue for the state’s operators, up 66.9% from $8.6 million in September 2019 and topping the previous record $12.2 million set in January.
September’s totals should keep Indiana in fourth place nationally, ahead of Illinois, which produced $139.8 million in August, and Colorado that rebounded in August. However, with its swift entry and size of the market, Illinois should likely eclipse that in October.
As expected, overall football betting was dominant, attracting $48.4 million wagering before the Big 10 football season postponed. Also, as common in localized markets, bettors flocked to wager upon the Indianapolis Colts.
Wagering was deeply affected by the Coronavirus and will continue to exceed online wagering expectations. During September, online wagering accounted for 83.5%, and $173.2 million, of the month’s total handle. DraftKings/Ameristar Casino led the online market again with $89.4 million in bets, an increase from $73.7 million in August. September’s wagers led to $3.2 million in gross receipts.
On the retail side, projections are inching toward normalization, combining for a $34.3 million handle in September. The Hollywood Lawrenceburg location owned by Penn National Gaming was the Indiana individual site leader with $9.9M during the month.
Indiana has certainly benefited by being the first out of the block within their Midwest locale. However, that advantage could be short-lived with Illinois moving rapidly now and Michigan poised to be perhaps the US second largest sports wagering market next to New Jersey sometime in 2021.
It is also a matter of time when Ohio sees serious legislative movement toward adding legalized wagering. When that happens, it is likely numbers will drop off at that Hollywood Lawrenceburg location, which sits near the Indiana border. And of course, the majority advantage incorporating online sports wagering, which faces geolocation restriction.
Still, the local market is only a bit over one year old. And many of the key advantages that made Indiana an instant success including strong support of local teams like the Colts, and easy access to large populated markets such as Cincinnati and Louisville will remain for a while.
Also, look for the inspiring results from sports wagering adding potential for overall bigger opportunity. A reliable revenue driver could be on the way soon, after State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) promised a new effort in 2021 to legalize online casino gambling for Indiana.
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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