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With Few Sports To Bet On, Indiana Betting Handle Nosedives

It was a record low $26 million in sports betting handle for Indiana sportsbooks after a month with no major live sporting events to wager on.

April’s offering of wagering upon the NFL and WNBA drafts along with new NFL futures markets had some potential to nullify the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indiana’s gambling revenues. April sports betting handle shows that nothing beats the lure of actual sporting events for bettors in the state, however.

Total handle fell to just $26.3 million last month. That’s a new low for Indiana’s sportsbooks. Moreover, football betting accounted for less than five percent of the total.

The skinny on the lean April sports betting handle

April’s total amount wagered across the state was about $8 million less than the previous low, which was September 2019. That was the first month for legal sports betting in Indiana.

Most notably regarding that month, the Indiana Gaming Commission hadn’t yet approved any online sportsbooks. The first legal online wager in Indiana didn’t take place until Oct. 3, 2019.

Month-over-month, April represented a decrease of about 65%. Here is a look at the numbers:

LicenseeTotal handleOnline handleRevenueTaxes
Ameristar - DraftKings$13,649,514$13,649,514$957,962$91,1006
Blue Chip - FanDuel$9,715,664$9,715,664$427,122$40,577
French Lick - BetRivers$2,067,231$2,067,231$116,284$11,047
Hollywood Lawrenceburg - PointsBet$449,638$449,638$0$0
Belterra - BetMGM$418,195$418,195$58,516$5,559
Rising Star - BetAmerica$3,886$3,886$0$0
Horseshoe Hammond$0N/A$0$0
Harrah's Hoosier Park$0N/A$0$0
Indiana Grand$0N/A$0$0
Caesars Southern Indiana$0N/A$0$0
Tropicana Evansville$0N/A$0$0

The Other category, which is everything but baseball, basketball, football, and parlay wagers accounted for just over $21 million of total handle last month. That included but wasn’t limited to foreign events like Taiwanese basketball and Ukrainian table tennis.

The fact that such events overshadowed wagering on the NFL Draft and other football futures acts to prove that nothing draws bettors like actual live competitions. There are some reasons to take these numbers with a grain of salt, however.

Why April 2020 will likely always be a sports betting outlier

Obviously, there were other circumstances that complicated matters last month. From the closure of all the state’s brick-and-mortar gambling facilities to loss of income for Indianans, it’s fair to put an asterisk next to these numbers.

The lack of major North American sports to wager upon was the most prominent factor in the decline. The absence of MLB games plus NBA and NHL playoff series normally taking place during April generated a lack of interest in wagering on sporting events for Indianans.

IN sportsbooks likely won’t see that interest rebound until North America’s major sports leagues have resumed play, bettors in and around the state are back to work and casinos/off-track betting sites are open again.

Additionally, Indiana processed over 57,000 new unemployment claims in April. That likely had some effect on the sharp drop in sports betting handle.

There’s no telling exactly when those things will all occur right now. While casinos may reopen with restrictions on June 14, that’s no guarantee that all regular patrons will return in earnest.

At that time, many may still be facing the economic consequences of the pandemic. Additionally, there’s no guarantee that MLB, the NBA, and the NHL will have resumed/started play at that time.

There might be some help on the way, however. European soccer leagues like Bundesliga and the English Premier League are preparing to resume play soon.

What seems apparent is that IN online sportsbooks can tout futures on college football and NFL seasons all they want at this point. Until the extenuating circumstances improve, sports betting handle isn’t going to return to its former glory.

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