Indiana is one of the many U.S. states where sports betting bills have been proposed, but lawmakers continue to debate the issues.
Residents have been placing bets on sporting events — like the Super Bowl and March Madness — at offshore online sites like Bovada for years. New state legislation and regulations would allow bettors in Indiana to walk into land-based sports books and place their wagers in person or place wagers using a mobile app platform.
What got this started? The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law in May 2018 that prohibits sports betting in a landmark decision that now gives states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.
What's the holdup? Multiple bills have been proposed in Indiana, but none have made it all the way through state government. The latest bill included more than just a vote on the sports betting industry. It would impact riverboat casino relocations, allow construction of a new casino, and squash a rule capping the maximum number of licenses a single casino owner may possess.
“The House didn’t pass a sports betting bill that was filed,” Rep. Todd Huston said. “I think that is an indication that (sports betting) is by no means a slam dunk."
Betting Laws in Indiana
More than 6.6 million people live in Indiana, a Midwestern U.S. state known for its farmland and famous auto race — the Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis is the state capital and its largest city with a population of more than 800,000 residents.
Gambling laws in the Hoosier State — whether it's betting on thoroughbred racing at Indiana Grand or playing the slots at one of its riverboat casinos — are regulated at the state level by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
All legalized gambling in Indiana is limited to the following areas:
- Casino gambling
- Tribal gambling
- Pari-mutuel wagering
- Daily fantasy betting
- Charitable gambling
The minimum gambling age in Indiana is 18 years old for lottery, pari-mutuel and charitable gambling and 21 years old for casino games.
Indiana is home to 13 casinos, with most of their operations on riverboats based primarily on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. These boats are much like those in other states. They are not designed to be navigable. They simply exist to maintain the gaming operations over a body of water (as the law commands).
The state also has two other casino operations called "racinos" — facilities that began life as horse racing tracks — Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. Each track was able to install up to 2,000 slot machines on their premises, but later transformed their venues into casinos.
Many of the state's casinos are located in two areas — the northwest corner and southern border. Those in the northwest draw many of their visitors from the Chicago metropolitan area. Those in the south draw gamblers from Louisville, meaning out-of-state customers provide a lot of revenue for these venues.
Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand are relatively new to the horse racing industry.
Hoosier Park, the older of the two venues, was established in 1994. It is a standardbred racetrack located in Anderson, about a half-hour drive northeast of Indianapolis.
Indiana Grand is located in Shelbyville, making it the closest "casino" to the state's largest city. The racetrack, which was previously known as Indiana Downs, opened for business in 2002. The track is affiliated with three off-track betting parlors around Indiana — in Clarksville, Indianapolis and New Haven.
The lotto in Indiana is the only one in the U.S. that uses its state's nickname as its official name — the Hoosier Lottery. The lottery, which was founded in 1988, sold 8.19 million tickets on its first day.
The lottery offers scratch-off tickets and daily draw games. It's also part of the multi-jurisdictional draws for Cash4Life, Mega Millions and Powerball.
Indiana Sports Betting Laws
The debate over new sports betting regulation continues in Indiana. It's not that lawmakers are against allowing residents to bet on sports, it's more about what the industry should look like within the state and its other gaming facilities.
Dan Nita, senior-vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond Casino, said there are a lot of moving pieces regarding the sports betting bill in the Indiana Legislature. He said he'd be optimistic about the chances of a proposal passing if it were a standalone bill.
Nita said in Mississippi patrons need to go into a casino to set up a mobile device account, while in New Jersey, they never have to set foot in a casino.
"The state is gauging what will make the most sense," he said. For now, the debate continues. A vote is expected soon.
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Indiana's Favorite Sports Teams
The Colts, who have won two Super Bowls (1970, 2006), have been a member of the NFL since their founding in 1953. The Colts relocated from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984 and have since appeared in the playoffs 16 times.
The Pacers, who won three ABA titles in the 1970s, have never won an NBA championship. The Pacers were NBA Eastern Conference champions in 2000 and have also won nine division titles.
The state is also home to two big time NCAA schools in the University of Indiana and Purdue University. The Hoosiers and Boilermakers are members of the Big Ten — the oldest Division I athletic conference in the country.