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State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – Indiana Comes Flying Out of the Blocks

The legal sports betting industry made a strong start to life in Indiana as operators took a handle of $35.2 million during September. It was the first month of legal sports wagering in the Hoosier State and it coincided with the start of the new NFL season. Football accounted for more than $20 million of the handle and parlays accounted for $9.8 million. Operators held revenue of almost $8.6 million and the state earned $813,103 in tax.

Indiana charges a relatively low tax rate of 9.5% in order to encourage a strong and competitive industry to flourish. The handle is likely to shoot up in October as more operators join the party. Only brick and mortar sportsbooks went live during September and many of them were only open for a small portion of the month.

The sportsbook at Horseshoe Hammond led the way, with a handle of $9 million and revenue of just over $2 million. Ameristar Casino and Hollywood Lawrenceburg were the next best-performing books, as both took more than $5 million in sports wagers and held more than $1.2 million in revenue.

Hoosier State Launches Mobile Sports Betting

Online sports wagering went live in Indiana at the beginning of October and that should lead to a dramatic increase in the size of the handle. Digital sportsbooks account for more than 80% of the handle in big markets like New Jersey, and there is every reason to think that Indiana will follow suit. Rush Street Gaming was once again the first to market, following a trend seen in Pennsylvania and other states. It launched its BetRivers.com platform on October 3 and quickly began targeting sports fans across the state.

DraftKings wasted no time in joining the mobile sports betting market in Indiana. “DraftKings could not be more thrilled to expand our national reach as states continue to open the market for legalised sports betting,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at DraftKings. “Since our sportsbook product launched in 2018, we have made it our number one priority to provide sports fans with a responsible place to wager on a superior and technologically advanced sports-betting platform. With Indiana becoming the latest state to offer legalised online and mobile sports betting, we are excited to provide the top-rated sportsbook app to some of the nation’s most passionate and dedicated sports fans.”

DraftKings is the second most popular site in New Jersey, after FanDuel, and it is also live in West Virginia. It has retail sportsbooks in Mississippi, New York and Iowa, and the Boston-based operator has ambitious plans to grow its footprint across the nation. Indiana is a fairly small market in terms of population, with 6.7 million residents, but it has plenty of sports fans and it is quite sparsely populated, so online operators see plenty of potential there. William Hill, FanDuel and PointsBet are all said to be contemplating a launch in the Hoosier State.

Public Acceptance Improves Rapidly

Sports betting continues to grow in popularity and prominence across the US. Since the Supreme Court struck down PASPA – the federal ban that previously outlawed sports wagering in all states apart from Nevada – last year, 11 states have launched legal sportsbooks. A further seven states have legalized it and launch is pending, while legislation is doing the rounds in many more states According to a new poll from Seton Hall University, 80% of Americans are now in favour of legalization.

That is a sharp rise on the 46% of respondents that endorsed legal sports betting when the same poll was run in 2017. “Public acceptance of legalized betting in sports is moving at a rapid pace, likely tied to court approval,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, in a statement. The survey was conducted between September 30 and October 2, with 714 respondents, and it found that younger adults were much more likely to be in favour of a federal legalization of sports betting.

Colorado Poised to Vote on Sports Betting

The next state to legalise sports betting could be Colorado. Voters in the state will go to the polls next month to decide whether they want a legal sports betting sector, covering both online and retail sportsbooks. Proposition DD would impose a 10% tax on operators’ net sports betting revenue, and the state hopes to raise $16 million in the first five years. The money would be used to bolster public services, like the water plan, with a chunk allocated to responsible gambling services. Colorado is a progressive state on issues like recreational cannabis use, and Rep. Alec Garnett, the bill’s sponsor, said that recent polls indicate voter support for a regulated sports betting trade.

However, The Centennial Institute, a Colorado-based conservative, Christian think tank, has opposed Proposition DD. “Legalising sports gambling damages the foundation of athletic competition and invites corruption,” said the Centennial Institute. “Every pitch, every shot, every swing, every score will be bet upon. It should be rejected. While proponents of the proposition claim it enjoys support among both political parties, opposition to the plan is also bipartisan.”

Informed Players Make Responsible Choices

The nascent sports wagering industry faces obstacles in every state. In Oregon, a gambling treatment specialist has criticised the state for allowing deposits of up to $250,000 at its new online and mobile sports betting platform, Scoreboard. Philip Yassenoffat Cascadia Behavioral Health said the potential for high stakes wagering could be potentially ruinous for Oregonians. “The amount of damage that can be done to them financially or emotionally in a short period of time is concerning to me as a therapist,” he said.

Yet the state feels comfortable with the limits permitted and believes the advent of sports wagering will greatly benefit the local economy. “The Oregon Lottery provides an important revenue stream for our state, funding a variety of key services from education to state parks to job creation,” said Charles Boyle, Gov. Kate Brown’s spokesman. “In order to preserve this revenue stream, the lottery is modernizing to serve new players while still promoting responsible gaming.”

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