Similar to other states with online gaming offerings, Indiana has seen a boost in revenue thanks to online sports wagering. In July, the state earned $6.6 million in revenue before taking $9.8 million in August.
With the infrastructure of online sports betting already in place, Sen. Jon Ford said he believes the addition of online casino gaming could provide an additional revenue stream to the state.
Ford is working on the language for an online casino bill that he plans to introduce in 2021.
“With the success we’ve had with sports wagering, I think there’s some appetite to have the discussion about online gaming,” he said. “I think this session, we’ll have a lot of good discussion about it.
“Having online sports wagering will show my colleagues that we can implement a safe and friendly environment for online gaming. And I think sports wagering and the successful rollout of that really shows them what we can do here in Indiana.”
When that session could take place is still uncertain. The Indiana legislature hasn’t met since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, Ford has used the time to fine-tune the bill, working with legislature services and colleagues to refine the legislation. He aid he expects to work on the education aspect closer to the end of the year.
Each of the 13 casinos or racinos in the state will have the chance at securing an iGaming license with the Indiana Gaming Commission providing oversight. Indiana mobile bettors have plenty of options on the sports side, with BetAmerica, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, UniBet and TheScore Bet currently active.
The added revenue during a pandemic when casinos currently can only operate at 50% capacity is one of the factors for looking to add online casino gaming in Indiana. But the current competitive landscape in the Midwest is another.
Michigan is expecting to launch its iGaming platform possibly as early as November, while Iowa and Illinois are also exploring the possibility of adding their own online casino gaming systems.
“Certainly, being competitive in the Midwest marketplace was a factor,” Ford said. “I think with COVID, since we’re in the middle of this and our casinos were shut down and we’re not at full capacity, so that certainly plays a role.”
Ford envisions two main challenges in getting online casino gaming passed within his state:
“I think there’s still some thought out there that online still hurts brick-and-mortar casinos,” Ford said. “I’d say that’s one of the barriers we overcome, and clearly the data we’re seeing in New Jersey the last few years, that’s really not the case.”
Online gaming softened the revenue blows casinos in New Jersey took during the pandemic. When casinos were closed in May, New Jersey profited more than $85 million in online casino ($81,423,413) and online poker revenue ($4,516,529).
As for the concern about potential addiction with online casino gaming, Ford points to the ability to monitor accounts online and the opt-out features that will be in place to curtail bad gambling habits.
“With online gaming, we are actually in a better position to help those who have issues with addiction,” Ford said. “We can track it, they can opt out, and right now, someone who has an addiction with gaming can use the illegal market on their cell phones and in their communities and no one can really track it.”
Ford said Indiana could have similar revenue success that New Jersey has experienced with its online casino gaming. In June, New Jersey recorded $84,913,147 million in iGaming revenue, which was an increase of 123.1% from June 2019 ($38,058,244). With online gaming becoming more popular, the platform could attract a younger gambling demographic, according to Ford.
“I think it could be a good 25% of our overall gaming revenue if I use New Jersey as a comparison,” Ford said. “Even with COVID, we passed $1 billion in sports wagering, so I think what that showed us that there is a younger marketplace looking for mobile options for gaming.”