Sports Betting Revenue Soars In Indiana

As three Indiana-based football teams pulled off impressive performances, sports betting in Indiana skyrocketed from fan bets in the month of November. This coincided with a decrease in bets placed at land-based casinos during the same time period. The majority of bets placed on sports during November in Indiana were via mobile and online betting options. November’s performance makes Indiana the fifth-largest sports betting market in the US.

A running back is tackled during a game of American football.

Indiana’s sports betting revenue surge is likely due to the stellar performance of three local football teams. ©KeithJJ/Pixabay

November Shows Significant Upswing In Indiana Sports Betting

Revenue released by the Indiana Gaming Commission in December revealed that sports betting increased by 9% for the month of November. In that four week period, sportsbooks in the state earned $251.4 million via sports wagers. 85% of those bets were placed via mobile or online offerings.

Within this tally, two casinos came out on top: Ameristar Casino and Blue Chip Casino. 41% of sports bets placed in Indiana during November were placed through the Ameristar Casino, located in East Chicago, Indiana. Ameristar Casino offers an online sportsbook powered by leading sportsbook DraftKings.

Meanwhile, 26% of Indiana sports bettors placed their bets through the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana. The majority of these bets were placed through the Blue Chip Casino’s online sportsbook, which is powered by FanDuel. In total, online and mobile sports betting in Indiana increased 2% in November from October.

Sports Betting Increase; Land-Based Gambling Decrease

In October 2020, 83% of all sports betting took place via mobile and online options. This is already an impressive statistic, but November saw that increasing still further, to 85%. It’s possible that this could be linked to the decline in land-based betting which took place in November 2020.

In the same report issued by the Indiana Gaming Commission, casino bets statewide plunged by 11% for the month of November. In total, casinos in Indiana earned $148.2 million for the month — more than $100 million less than sportsbooks earned during that same time period.

This is a disappointing development, particularly following reports at the end of summer 2020 which demonstrated that casino revenue in the state had managed to stay about the same year-over-year from the same period in 2019, even though all 13 of Indiana’s casinos were subject to capping their maximum capacity at 50%.

Why The Disparity?

Reports about the comparison between sports betting revenue increases and casino-based gambling decreases pointed to a number of factors for the November returns. First, due to the overwhelming surge of COVID-19 in the United States, the Indiana government has re-instituted safety precautions which have had deleterious effects on local businesses.

This meant that casinos, bars, and restaurants have all been subject to new COVID-19 safety guidelines. The 11% decline in revenue for land-based casinos is in comparison to October 2020, not year-over-year. There has, however, been a consistent decline in Indiana casino revenue through the fall, as October revenue was already down 2% from September.

Year-over-year, of course, the disparity is even greater. Land-based casino earnings of $148.2 million for the month of November 2020 is a 17% decrease from November 2019, before the pandemic began. A saving grace for casino revenue was the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, which raised its earnings by 17.5% in November from October.

Another Factor: Local Teams Shine

Still, perhaps the most significant contributing factor to Indiana’s increased sports betting earnings in November 2020 was due not to the reinstitution of COVID-19 measures, but to the surprising success of three beloved local football teams: college teams Notre Dame and Indiana University, and NFL team the Indianapolis Colts.

A local sports analyst, Dustin Gouker, stated that sports betting always thrives when a local team is succeeding, and Indiana has been lucky to have three teams rising to the top of their seasons as American football season ramps up to the Super Bowl. When compared to the IGC’s data, Gouker’s assertion certainly seems true.

The Indiana Gaming Commission’s report demonstrated that close to half of all sports bets placed in the state during November were placed on football games. With these developments, then, Indiana’s sports betting industry — and the fate of its football teams — is likely one to watch as the football season continues.

Increase Catapults Indiana To Top 5 Sports Betting Markets In US

These returns have had an impressive effect: now, Indiana has replaced Colorado as the fifth-largest sports betting market in the United States, coming after New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Should this upward trend continue, it is likely that even more companies will flock to offer sports betting in the state.

A Possible Complication: COVID-19 Concerns Halt Game Play

In mid-December, a historic football championship — the Old Oaken Bucket — was cancelled for the first time in over 100 years due to COVID-19 concerns. The game was to be held in Bloomington, Indiana, and would have been a face-off between two Indiana teams, the Indiana Hoosiers and the Purdue Boilermakers.

This decision came less than a week after it was revealed that Indiana University’s team — the Hoosiers — had halted its activities due to the virus. By December 15, both the Hoosiers and the Boilermakers needed additional time off due to positive cases of COVID-19 on each team and the need for additional contact tracing.

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An archway at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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