Indiana Goes All In

by Santino Torres / Staff Reporter

Sports betting is set to create plenty of revenue for the nearby Hoosier State. Photo courtesy of John Locher of AP.

Last month, the state of Indiana opened up its first sportsbooks available for sports betting. The launch comes just four months after the state legalized sports betting, which was made possible after a Supreme Court ruling went against an act that prohibited states from legalizing it.

Sports betting had been illegal in the United States since 1992 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) went into effect. The act stopped states from legalizing sports betting. Delaware, Montana and Oregon had pre-existing sports lotteries that were grandfathered in, thus making them partially exempt from the act, while Nevada was fully exempt by having a government-sanctioned sportsbook in operation since 1949.

In January 2012, then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law allowing for sports betting to take place in the state of New Jersey after its voters approved a referendum a month earlier. Five years later, the state’s appeal against PASPA reached the Supreme Court. About a year later, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of the state of New Jersey, effectively abolishing PASPA, and giving states the green light to legalize sports betting, stating that the act, “violated constitutional principles limiting the federal government from controlling state policy.”

As of today, there are 12 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that all have now legalized sports betting. On May 8, Indiana became the second state this year to legalize sports betting, only behind Montana who had done it the week before. Statewide mobile wagering allows for such on athletic sports at the collegiate level or above, disallowing wagering on esports or amateur athletics. Data source restrictions and limitations on in-play betting are left up to the Indiana Gaming Commission. Vendors seeking a license must pay a $100,000 fee upfront, having to pay half of that annually for renewal afterward, and a 9.5 percent tax is levied on their adjusted gross revenue.

“While we have seen some of the same guests visiting to seek other amenities at our casino such as the table games, the hotel and the marina park which is right next door, we have noticed even more Chicagoans coming in to check out the Sportsbook and it has quickly become a popular attraction among Chicagoans from the nearby neighborhoods,” says Paul Novak, Senior Director of Gaming for Ameristar Casino. Novak has been tasked with keeping watch of the Sportsbook’s first months, tracking the activity and the amount of money coming in from wagers as well as the money going out from guest winnings.

“The Sportsbook has quickly become a healthy resource of revenue for our casino,” said Novak. “Indiana has become the first state in the Midwest to legalize sports betting and we have continued to receive a mass amount of guests from out of state, mainly Chicago.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a gambling expansion law over the summer, which was going to allow for sports betting, as well as permitting Chicago to build a mega casino in the near future. Novak did not seem highly concerned with the possibility of such a casino reclaiming guests coming from Chicago, citing other amenities that attract guests to Ameristar.

“We also have a hotel that offers great service and lower rates than most hotels in Chicago,” said Novak. “This also attracts a lot of Chicagoans to our casino as guests staying in the hotel commonly head down to the casino, allowing them the opportunity to check out our new Sportsbook, available now at Ameristar.”

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