Basketball is a booming business in the Hoosier state.
The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) released its February sports betting numbers today. The data reveals a huge jump in sports betting, the majority of which came from hoops. The increased handle was expected, as bettors ramped up for March Madness.
NBA, college hoops fuel big numbers
The IGC’s revenue report reveals that sportsbooks took $90.1 million in basketball bets. That figure represents about 48% of the total handle for the month: $185.9 million.
The NBA and college basketball fueled basketball’s dominance. Indiana bettors spent the month, no doubt, gearing up for the NCAA Tournament with futures bets. Three Indiana teams are projected to make it to the Big Dance, adding intrigue for Hoosier State bettors, too.
February marks the second straight month basketball has generated more handle than football. In January, basketball handle was $59.7 million, while football’s was $36.6 million.
FanDuel continues to gain ground on DraftKings
DraftKings, which operates via a license from Ameristar Casino, is the unquestionable king of action in Indiana. The famed sportsbook has topped $70 million in handle since November. In February, it pulled in $79.9 million.
Meanwhile, FanDuel, which operates under a license from Blue Chip Casino, is playing the part of the scrappy underdog. In November, the sportsbook pulled in $28.1 million. By February, that number jumped to $65.9 million.
So, while FanDuel has yet to eclipse DraftKings’ handle, it has momentum on its side. The operator has seen its Indiana handle rise by more than 134%, whereas DraftKings’ handle has meandered in the $70 million range for months.
Adding to the rivalry is FanDuel’s hold. While its handle was 17.5% behind DraftKings, its hold ($2.0 million) was more than 60% behind DraftKings ($6.0 million). This may indicate FanDuel is running bettor-positive promotions that are cutting into its revenue.
So, while FanDuel’s handle growth has been impressive, it has come at a cost.
February handle hits new high
Basketball’s popularity with bettors coupled with FanDuel’s efforts to increase business has lead to big gains in the state’s total sportsbook handle. While just a fledgling market–sports betting launched its retail and online/mobile access by October– sportsbooks have thrived.
In December, handle crept past $160 million, surpassing November’s revenue by more than $15 million. In January, handle surpassed $170 million. This past month, the new standard was more than $187 million.
The exact handle numbers from those months are:
- February: $187.1 million
- January: $170.8 million
- December: $161.8 million
- November – $145.4 million
The jump in revenue from January to February was roughly $16.3 million. That increase is nearly identical to December’s month-on-month increase. Things are looking good for Indiana sportsbooks. However, there is some concern that coronavirus could affect the biggest betting moment of the year: the NCAA Tourney.
Will coronavirus fears cut into tourney betting?
Over the past week, a collective concern has emerged about coronavirus’ effect on March Madness.
Earlier today, the Ivy League announced in a press release it canceled its postseason men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said. “Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”
This comes in the wake of the Mid-American and Big West announcing they would hold their conference tournaments without any fans.
“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine-member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,” Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell said in a statement released today.
The momentum seems to point in the direction of an NCAA tournament without fans, at the very least, and, possibly, a full-fledged cancellation.
If the latter is the case, it will be a stroke of bad luck for Indiana and multiple other states whose sportsbooks are in the thick of futures on March Madness.