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Indiana Makes Historic Mark On Sports Betting In 2020

Even with COVID-19 and the pause of major American sports, Indiana had a record 2020 for sports betting, hauling in over $1.7 billion in handle.

Indiana capped its first full year of legal sports betting with another record-shattering month.

Bettors across the state placed $313 million in sports bets, by far the highest amount in a single month for Indiana. Impressively, the state tallied four consecutive record-breaking months to end the year.

December’s haul generated more than $24 million in revenue for Indiana sportsbooks and roughly $2.3 million in taxes.

It also brought 2020’s handle total to more than $1.7 billion.

This success provides a silver lining to a year that crushed casinos and government revenues.

The sports betting infrastructure’s achievements also bode well for what continues to be a rapidly-evolving gaming landscape in Indiana.

Indiana establishes itself as a leading US market

Questions about Indiana’s ability to conduct a successful sports betting marketplace were answered long ago.

But December made it clear that sports betting is as strong here as nearly anywhere else in America.

Since June 2018, just three states (Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) have tallied more handle than Indiana.

As legalization spreads, Indiana’s ranking may drop – Illinois broke the $400 million mark in October, for instance – but expect it’s early-adopter status and consistent growth to keep it among the top dogs.

Its ability to rebound from COVID-19’s initial wave and also take advantage of the return of major sports was impressive.

Much of that can be attributed to aggressive advertising campaigns – most notably from DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM – and the hunger to take part in what is still just a 16-month-old industry in the state.

Also, Indiana has undoubtedly benefitted from local winning teams. The Colts, Notre Dame and IU football all had solid seasons.

What sports, apps have been most popular?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular individual sports to bet on in Indiana in 2020 were football and basketball:

  • Football: $350.2 million
  • Parlay: $316.2 million
  • Other (hockey, etc.): $253.4 million
  • Basketball: $213.4 million
  • Baseball: $103 million

The same was true in December. Football generated $101.7 million in handle. College basketball and the return of the NBA helped generate $89.7 million.

Most of that handle came through the state’s top-five sportsbooks:

  • DraftKings: $112.6 million
  • FanDuel: $78.1 million
  • BetMGM: $40.9 million
  • PointsBet: $11.3 million
  • BetRivers: $10.6 million

At the bottom of the pile were Caesars, Unibet, and BetAmerica (soon to be rebranded as TwinSpires).

Borders still play major role in retail

Online betting is definitely the preferred sports betting method for Hoosiers.

But that doesn’t mean retail betting has disappeared. Nor does it mean casinos don’t still work to maximize in-person wagers.

Slot-machine and table-game revenues dropped for Indiana casinos in 2020 due to COVID-19 closures.

Therefore, any funds garnered through retail sports betting is more than welcome. Sites are still working to figure out the best approach to social distancing going into 2021.

The casino doing the best business with retail sports betting is Hollywood Lawrenceburg.

Located near Cincinnati and the Ohio border, the casino received more than $12 million in retail bets.

The casino’s proximity to a major metropolitan area without legalized sports betting is likely key to its success.

Ohio residents must cross the border to bet on sports. It seems many in the Cincinnati area are choosing to do it at the Hollywood casino.

The second-best retail numbers came from Ameristar Casino and its newly-renovated Barstool Sportsbook ($9.5 million). Horseshoe Hammond took third with its $7.2 million haul.

Illinois has bolstered its online betting options, limiting the casinos’ exposure to out-of-state sports-hungry bettors. However, Ameristar and Horseshoe still benefitted by the fact downtown Chicago has yet to open a casino.

Until that happens, both will continue to reap the benefits of Chicago bettors drawn to retail sports betting.

What does future hold for sports betting in Indiana?

As others have noted, the future of Indiana’s gambling industry is likely to include legalizing online casinos and the expansion of video gaming terminals.

Legislative progress, and the ability of proponents to point toward sports betting successes, make the legalization of online casinos the most likely option for Indiana’s near future.

Both local and state governments are in desperate need of revenue influx, making it possible Indiana’s typically glacial legislature could move at a uniquely aggressive pace on both issues.

As for sports betting, expect more of the same – at least in the short term.

With the NFL Playoffs here and March Madness around the corner, Indiana is set to keep building off its rapid growth.

Still, a ceiling will emerge at some point.

The spread of legalization in bordering states is something to watch. Ohio faces pressure to allow sport betting and Illinois shows signs that its pause on in-person betting registrations is here to stay.

The number of available Hoosier customers will also soon wane.

Eventually it becomes more difficult to drive new customers outside those turning legal age. That is also true for increasing existing users’ betting frequencies.

Nonetheless, Indiana’s sports betting industry has shown enormous resiliency in 2020, bouncing back from a historic, unpredictable medical offensive on American sports.

Such flexibility will be needed as Indiana adapts to an ever-evolving sports betting industry in coming years.

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