Unibet launched mobile sports betting in Indiana on Thursday.
Months of work lead to final approval
The IGC’s mobile wagering authorization for Unibet brings the sportsbook to its third state, following New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
It all follows the announcement in February that parent company Kindred Group had reached a 10-year agreement with Caesars to allow market access in Indiana and Iowa.
“Unibet has substantially demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Commission that its mobile sports wagering operation meets the requirements of Indiana code and other regulations,” noted a Tuesday order from IGC Executive Director Sara Tait.
The commission first approved a temporary vendor license for Unibet on May 13.
That temporary license gave Unibet the go-ahead on its partnership with Horseshoe Hammond.
The Hammond casino, currently operating under the Caesars umbrella, is expected to be sold by the end of the year. State officials have required Caesars to sell its three Indiana casinos as part of the major Eldorado-Caesars merger.
That means Unibet will see its brick-and-mortar partner undergo a major change within its first year.
But the success of Hammond’s casino should limit any serious impact to Unibet. Situated near downtown Chicago, it is the state’s highest-grossing casino.
Horseshoe Hammond should see its market share jump following the impactful addition of a mobile sports betting deal.
Unibet enters Indiana fray during unique stretch
Unibet joins a growing group of online sportsbooks in the Hoosier State.
Its competition includes behemoths like DraftKings and FanDuel. It also includes:
More sportsbooks are on the way.
Attracting customers already loyal to existing brands could be an issue for new sportsbooks, but Unibet’s timing may help it in this area.
The sportsbook opens online operations in Indiana at the outset of Major League Baseball’s season and on the first day of the National Basketball Association’s return to play.
Fans are eager to re-engage with professional American sports; bettors are excited to not wake up at 5 a.m. for Korean baseball. Unibet therefore has a unique opportunity to market itself to potential customers.
Uncertain future of sports moving forward
Another concern for sportsbooks is that COVID-19 will drive American sports back underground. Those worries have amplified following the Miami Marlins’ recent debacle.
But a prominent figure in sports betting is optimistic, and his prognosis is a good one for sportsbooks like Unibet taking their place in a new market.
FanDuel CEO Matt King told CNN this week he isn’t overly worried about losing American sports. He cited heavy investments in having “the right safety procedures in place.”
Even in a worst-case scenario, American fans have already become amenable to betting on foreign sports and less-popular events. Such options have allowed sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings to stay relatively comfortable during the pandemic.
Indiana, however, has seen a hit. The state’s handle dipped to roughly $29.7 million in June, down from $37.3 million in May and a high of $187 million in February.
But Hoosier fortunes could soon change. A best-case scenario sees the completions of MLB and NBA seasons and the return of National Football League games.
That would likely lead to the brightest days ever for online sports betting, evidenced by the enormous amounts wagered on baseball in recent days.
“The NFL, as luck would have it, will be able to learn from baseball and basketball. Weeks matter. The benefit of experience will be material,” noted King.