Christmas turned out to be a little disappointing.
The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) released this past week the state’s sports betting numbers from December. Revenue from sports betting rose from November to December, but not nearly as much as it did from October to November.
There are several possibilities as to why the revenue dropped but, first, the numbers.
December sports betting revenue: Looking good
Eleven of Indiana’s 13 casinos took sports wagers in December. The following list details each casino’s adjusted gross revenue (handle minus payouts):
- Ameristar Casino: $5,845,732
- Blue Chip Casino: $2,395,170
- Horseshoe Hammond: $1,152,086
- Hollywood Lawrenceburg: $880,009
- Belterra Casino: $152,919
- French Lick Resort: $532,397
- Harrah’s Hoosier Park: $434,381
- Caesars Southern Indiana: $176,220
- Tropicana Evansville: $216,885
- Indiana Grand: $175,949
- Rising Star Casino: $28,161
- Total revenue: $11,989,909
The state’s 9.5% tax rate resulted in tax revenue of $1,139,041.
For comparison’s sake, Indiana sportsbooks pulled in $9,298,552 in November. The jump from $9.28 million in November to $11.98 million in December represents around a 29% increase, which is a big swing from the nearly 28% decrease in revenue from October to November.
From a revenue perspective, Indiana sees continued growth in its sports betting market. This is to be expected from a market that’s in its infancy. However, data reveals sportsbook handle growth slowed the last month of the year.
December sports betting handle: Not looking quite as good
The total handle from Indiana sportsbooks in December was $161,808,925. That figure represents a 9.8% increase over the state’s November handle of $147,276,915, according to the IGC.
While this data indicates continued growth, there is a concern that the growth may be slowing.
In October, Indiana’s books logged a $91,697,393 handle. The following month, the handle increased by 60.60%. That substantial jump built momentum going into December, but that momentum slowed.
There are several factors involved in the decline.
Bad NFL teams likely slowed Indiana’s betting momentum
With Illinois lawmakers still fumbling their way through sports betting legislation and Ohio nowhere near the legalizing sports wagering, Indiana has the distinct advantage of being a betting hot spot for three NFL teams: the Indianapolis Colts, the Chicago Bears, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, all three teams had an abysmal regular season.
Heading into November, the Colts were 5-2 and in the running for the top spot in the AFC South. Hopes were high in Indy, but those hopes were quickly dashed. The Colts lost back-to-back games to start the month: on the road to the Pittsburgh Steelers and an unconscionable loss at home to the Miami Dolphins.
After the Colts drubbed the Jacksonville Jaguars, they went on a four-game losing streak, including losses to the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans that ruined their hopes of a divisional championship.
By the time Christmas rolled around, the Colts were out of the playoff race and 7-8.
The Bears entered November 3-4, with many experts believing whatever magic Matt Nagy created the previous season was now gone. Mitchell Trubisky’s popularity among Bears fans dwindled to a whimper and all seemed lost.
The Bears managed to go 3-2 that month, bringing them back to .500. They won a crucial Thursday night game against the Cowboys the first week of December, leading many to believe the Monsters of the Midway were poised for a playoff run. However, the Bears lost their next two games and said goodbye to the postseason.
Whereas the Colts and the Bears gave their betting fan base hope heading into November, the Bengals provided no such positivity. The Bengals didn’t win their first game until Dec. 1 and finished the season 2-14.
Andy Dalton was benched midway through the season for Ryan Finley, who bungled his way through three starts before the Bengals brought Dalton back.
Looking Ahead: January and February
Indiana’s sports handle should increase this month and next, as March is typically the biggest month for sports betting.
The NFL playoffs are in full swing and college and pro basketball are edging toward March Madness and the playoff respectively.