Indiana recorded its strongest betting month in September.
Bolstered by an atypical month that combined intense interest in all major American sports, Indiana generated $207 million in sports betting handle.
It is the highest total in a single month, topping February’s previous high of $187 million. It’s also a significant boost over the $169 million handle earned in August – before the NFL season kicked off.
The NFL’s presence undoubtedly ballooned betting revenue in the state, although football in 2020 has also impacted the strength of other sports.
September a record-breaking month for Indiana betting handle
Overall, sports wagering generated $1.35 million in tax revenue for Indiana. Sportsbooks, meanwhile, brought in $14.2 million in adjusted gross revenue.
In many ways, Indiana’s betting totals in September were boosted by COVID-19 and the change in sports’ schedules.
And while it may not make up for the lean months of this spring and early summer, it constitutes a fall betting boom for Hoosier sportsbooks.
Much of that boom was caused by the confluence of sporting calendars that in most years purposefully avoid each other.
September included the first weeks of the NFL season, NBA Playoffs, MLB pennant races, NHL Playoffs, and the Stanley Cup Finals.
Here is the September handle by sport:
- Parlay: $50.6 million
- Football: $48.4 million
- Other (including hockey): $43 million
- Basketball: $34.2 million
- Baseball: $30.5 million
DraftKings, FanDuel continue to lead mobile pack
It won’t come as a surprise to Hoosiers that DraftKings retained its spot as the most popular mobile Indiana sportsbook.
Or that FanDuel came in a distant second.
The breakdown of sportsbook popularity in Indiana last month was largely predictable:
- DraftKings: $89.4 million
- FanDuel: $56.5 million
- BetMGM: $13.19 million
- BetRivers: $6.24 million
- PointsBet: $6.19 million
While Indiana now has nine mobile sportsbooks – including Unibet and BetAmerica – the competition behind the top-five books has yet to create a noticeable challenge.
One reason for that success is name recognition. DraftKings and FanDuel, and increasingly BetMGM, have by far led the charge in generating nationwide attention.
Their ability to advertise on NFL, MLB, and NBA broadcasts has far exceeded any competition. Not to mention DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s early presence in the daily fantasy sports scene.
The top sportsbooks have also done well integrating themselves into the Hoosier State.
Examples include FanDuel’s relationship with former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee and recent BetMGM promos targeting Colts and Notre Dame touchdowns.
Basketball dip corresponds with ratings disappointment
Just 5.6 million viewers watched LeBron James win his fourth NBA championship on Sunday.
That same evening, 11.4 million fans tuned in to NBC to watch a Sunday Night Football matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings.
Drawing an even starker comparison was Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, which drew more than 18 million viewers.
Nielsen data puts this year’s NBA Finals as the least-watched on record.
Indiana’s September betting totals mirrored that lack of interest.
The NBA Playoffs faced the same challenge then as the Finals faced this past weekend – eyeballs pointed elsewhere.
While $55.2 million was wagered on basketball in August, the sport’s wagering total dropped to $34.2 million in September.
One cause is obvious: the NFL.
Once football kicked off, the nation’s focus shifted from the NBA to what remains by far America’s favorite sport.
That competition for viewers – and now bettors – is not something for which the NBA typically has to account.
But a coronavirus-caused delay placed the NBA Playoffs in atypical conflict with the early weeks of the NFL season. And things did not go well for basketball.
In addition to the highly-anticipated NFL season, the upcoming election and televised debates also put the NBA in a bind.
It will be interesting to see if the NBA can bounce back from a disappointing year and keep the interest of both viewers and bettors in the future.