Indiana Sports Betting Bill Undergoes Changes, Heading to House for Floor Debate

Legislators in Indiana have advanced a Sports Betting Bill out of committee and send the measure to the House floor for further debate. The amended bill could provide a path to allowing sports betting in the state by September 1st, 2019.

Indiana Moves a Sports Betting Bill to House Floor for Debate

The House Ways and Means Committee has moved a sports betting bill to the House floor for continued debate with several new amendments.

By a vote of 17-6, the committee sent the bill to the House in the hopes of reaching an agreement.

“There are a lot of parochial and sovereign interests,” said committee co-chairman State Rep. Todd Huston.

"This is a jump ball. Do what you feel like is best for your constituency and the state,"

Huston told his fellow representatives.

Huston's comments came at the end of a long session that saw the bill change in a variety of ways that bent toward the lobbying by the gaming industry.

The casino industry in the state won the most significant victory by reducing the entry fee into introducing sports betting to their customers.

Now, the license fee for casinos and other establishments to participate in sports betting has fallen to $10,000 from the previously suggested payment of $100,000 in the revised bill.

The committee also decided that the state’s sports betting bill would allow the Indiana Gaming Commission to regulate the sports wagering market.

Another substantial change to the bill is the establishment of a new tax rate of 9.5% for overall betting revenue from the casinos.

After the vote, Rep. Huston cautioned that just because sports betting was on the horizon, didn’t necessarily mean that the state would suddenly see record tax revenue in return.

Indiana is estimating sports betting tax revenue will generate roughly $12 million in its first year, but other states have seen their expected revenue fall short in their first year of operation.

Did the Legislators Put Online Betting Back Into the Bill?

No, an earlier amendment that put online betting into the bill was removed later on by the committee. Here you can read a detailed article on the amendment.

Committee Chairman Ben Smaltz expressed concern that a provision to allow online gambling inside the state could open the floodgates to an industry that regulators would struggle to contain.

“If you’re allowing sports gaming on a mobile device, what kind of expansion does that lead us to?” Smaltz told fellow committee members.

”…It would be difficult to imagine a scenario where I, or certainly a large number of people in Indiana, would think it’s a good idea to put mobile out there right now.”

Why Did Indiana’s Casinos Have Influence Over the Proposed Bill?

For the state's casinos, the burden of removing taxes from revenue and not profit had caused them to operate at a deficit.

Begging for relief, the new bill will reduce the casino's taxation rate to 9.5%.

The tax cut is expected to save Indiana's casinos collectively close to $20 million per year.

Proponents of the tax change on the committee said the move was necessary to protect the industry within the state, including the hundreds of jobs casinos produce.

"At the end of the day we want to be competitive with our neighboring states," Huston said.

"We want to see investments in Indiana, not in other states."

When Will We See Sports Betting In Indiana?

If the bill passes both the Senate and House then residents of Indiana can expect to be betting on sports by the beginning of the 2019 NFL season.

The projected start date stands at September 1st, 2019 in the proposed bill.

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