With the Labor Day weekend comes the last hurrah for swimming pools and summer vacations.
In Indiana, Labor Day weekend brought something else — the start of sports betting. The governor of Indiana signed the bill in early May allowing sportsbooks to open. Almost three months later, gambling has begun, and just in time for football season.
Almost a year to the day that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the ban on sportsbooks, Indiana is ready. Nearly 20 states have either begun sports gambling or have legislation in the works. Indiana saw nearly a billion dollars from all forms of gambling revenue in 2018. The state has casinos, horse racing, and a lottery. Because the gambling business has been so good, Indiana had been pushing to legalize sports gambling. The push toward sports betting became even more urgent when other Midwestern states began talking about legalizing gambling as well. The state failed to legalize gambling in 2018 because the ruling by the Supreme Court came too late for legislation. When the new legislative session started in 2019, sportsbooks were a top priority.
The Start of Sports Gambling in the State
Indiana has not finalized the rules for sportsbooks. It takes a while to make sure all the rules adhere to the state constitution. However, the gambling commission approved emergency measures that allowed three casinos to begin offering sports betting. The emergency rules will be in effect for the first 90 days of sports gambling. By the end of 90 days, the commission hopes to have permanent regulations in place.
The first casino to offer sportsbooks was Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville. The Ameristar Casino Hotel in East Chicago and the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg followed later in the week. Horseshoe Hammond opened its sportsbook on Sept. 4. The French Lick Resort and Casino began Sept. 6.
Another casino, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, opened its sportsbook last week. It wanted to go ahead and get its sportsbook opened ahead of its name change and rebranding in December. The casino’s new name will be Caesar’s Southern Indiana. The gambling venue will move from a riverboat casino to a land-based casino.
Harrah’s Hoosier Park is opening its sportsbook this weekend after undergoing a renovation. The sportsbook has a prime place in the racino, with a room overlooking the track. Large-screen TVs and a sports bar atmosphere complete the look. Several racinos, such as the Winner’s Circle brands, are beginning sports betting at the end of the week.
By the end of the year, the state is hoping all the casino and racino properties will have sportsbooks. However, online sports betting is still up in the air. Indiana has said it wants to welcome sports gambling online. It will take time to get the legislation passed and the policies in place. Still, the state is planning to bring online sportsbooks to the forefront as part of a larger online gambling bill. Indiana wants to follow the lead of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which offer online and on-site gambling and sportsbooks. Pennsylvania has seen a large profit in the online gambling business since it began sportsbooks and online casinos in 2018.
Indiana discussed the number of gambling tourists who may come to the state as well. Many of the casinos are close to Canada and may see an uptick in Canadian tourism. Canada does not allow single sports betting. Many of the casinos in northern Indiana are within driving distance of Canada. Canadians may choose to come down for a weekend of gambling and placing bets on sportsbooks.
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