There is a reason they call it March Madness. With such fervor around basketball, the interest in the games, and betting on the games, it at its peak. However, March sports betting handle was anything but typical this year.
The cancellation of March Madness happened in concert with the suspension of the NBA season. For Indiana sportsbooks, that set up a disappointing month.
March 2020 sports betting handle in Indiana at $75M
The first March with legal sports betting in Indiana history might go down as the worst. At the very least, it will always have a historical footnote of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
Not only did major sporting events cease, but retail sportsbooks around the state closed their doors as well. That came in concert with record unemployment that may have caused Indianans to curtail spending on entertainment.
Altogether, IN’s legal retail and online sportsbooks took in over $74.7 million in bets during the month. Almost $61 million or about 81% of that total came from the state’s online sportsbooks.
The state’s sportsbooks still benefitted from the ongoing NBA season and the anticipation of March Madness. Nearly $35 million or 46% of the total handle came from bets on basketball.
The breakdown by the operator for the, further split between online and retail, was as follows:
|Operator||Retail handle in millions||Online handle in millions||Total in milions|
|Caesars Southern Indiana||$0.80||-||$0.80|
|French Lick Resort/BetRivers||$0.08||$3.59||$3.67|
|Harrah's Hoosier Park||$1.76||-||$1.76|
|Totals in millions||$13.55||$60.76||$74.73|
As expected, these numbers are down significantly from February. That’s somewhat of an unfair comparison, however. The two months aren’t similar data samples.
Why comparing February to March this year is apples to oranges
The greatest contrast between the past two months in terms of sports betting is Super Bowl Sunday. That’s usually the largest single betting day of the year.
In February, Indiana bettors wagered over $11.6 million on football. Last month, that total dropped to a mere $741,182. That’s a big reason why March’s total handle was over $112.4 million less than February’s total.
In February, even the basketball wagering was significantly higher than March’s hoops bets. At that point, there was no hint of the NBA suspending its season or that there would be no NCAA tournament.
Additionally, Indiana bettors likely did not worry about the economic strain that they faced in March. Because of all those factors, the month-over-month comparison is worthless as far as drawing any solid conclusions from the data goes.
The unsettling thing for IN sportsbooks going forward is that March could actually look decent in comparison to April numbers. The state may collect very little gaming tax as casinos and retail sportsbooks are closed while employees all over the state are furloughed or laid off.
While IN’s online sportsbooks are still up and running, it remains to be seen how well they will fare this month given the lack of major North American sports to offer action on and bettors’ financial concerns. Even the most optimistic appraisals of the situation from leagues like the PGA don’t have events resuming until May.
For the sports betting industry in Indiana, March 2020 will be memorable because of the unique situation it fell upon. Hopefully, this will be history that never repeats itself.