Is it possible for a state to be both extremely strict and relatively progressive when it comes to gambling? As it turns out, yes. Indiana is unequivocal proof. Though there are ways to indulge in different types of wagering as a resident, Indiana's laws are far more specific, and rather wide-ranging, compared to most other places. Where some states have ambiguous language that allows for inherent workarounds, Indiana does a good job of covering most bases...
...Offering rules and regulations on just about every type of betting—from online and table to electronic and fantasy—in existence. On the sports betting front specifically, this is most likely a response to their popping scene. They have a handful of professional squads and even more college squads that receive tons of local and national recognition.
Indiana Sports Betting Law
Sports betting is illegal for Indiana residents in the broadest sense. They have horse-racing tracks for people to legally explore, and there are more than a few casinos scattered throughout the state, but they don't allow for any sportsbook-style wagering—and that includes online gaming. The lone exception: Fantasy leagues.
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Casino Gambling is Legal
Indiana has more than 10 casinos for patrons to frequent, most of which are of the riverboat variety. These establishments offer the full Las Vegas-style experience, with a heavy emphasis on slot machines. That said, there are table games at certain places, like the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino, which includes everything from craps and black jack, to roulette and poker.
Using Online Sportsbooks is Prohibited
As alluded to earlier, Indiana doesn't allow for any indecisiveness with regards to online gambling. It is considered illegal—which is fairly unique. While most other states don't 100 percent embrace online gambling, they do not specifically denounce it. That Indiana has something on the books prohibiting citizens from using online casinos and sportsbooks is incredibly progressive. The law itself, to be sure, is not; the fact they have a law at all, though, most definitely is.
Fantasy Sports Betting Has a Green Light
Somewhat surprisingly, Indiana has legalized daily fantasy betting. Their reasoning for this quirk rests on the belief that these contests require more skill than they do chance—logic that basically every other state in favor of fantasy betting also employs. Still, it is a little odd, since Indiana explicitly has rules against online gamble in general. It would make more sense for this to be illegal, or online gaming to lack concrete laws in general.
Specific Social Gambling Constructs
In another oddity, Indiana considers social gambling to be illegal. Betting for charitable purposes is fine, but you cannot host bingo nights or casino-style events with licenses.
This technically holds true for your household poker night. Indiana portrays poker has a game of chance, not skill, unlike fantasy sports. You can obviously get away with a living-room contest, but any underground, poker-specific spots are in no way legal, and you will risk serious repercussions should you be caught attending one.
Friendly wagers among friends, however, are fine under certain circumstances. For example: Say you're playing a round of golf or a few games of pickup basketball. You can wager amongst yourselves on who will win. But you have to be betting on yourself. You cannot gamble on the outcome of someone else's efforts. That's considered illegal.
Again, this is something you can get away with on a small scale, but it is specific rules and nuanced clarifications like this that give you an idea of how committed Indiana is to ensuring its laws are not open for interpretation and baseless technicalities.
Indiana Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in Indiana at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Legal
- Tribal Gambling: Legal
- Poker: Not legal
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Legal
- Social Gambling: Not legal
- Charitable Gambling: Legal
- Online Gambling: Not Legal
Indiana Sports Teams
Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
The Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League are the pulse of Indiana's sports body. They are considered one of the NFL's more popular franchises, most recently due to their success at unearthing superstar quarterbacks. They went from enjoying 13 years of All-Pro offensive pilot Peyton Manning, to landing his replacement in Andrew Luck, another stud, before he even officially left the team for the Denver Broncos.
As a franchise, the Colts have missed the playoffs just three times since 2002, albeit two of those three strikeouts have come in the last two years. They have just three Super Bowl appearances, with one victory, to their resume, but their consistent postseason appearances have, until recently, buoyed their relevancy. It helps, too, that they earned a pair of championships before the Super Bowl was officially introduced.
Indiana Pacers (NBA)
Not unlike the Colts, the Indiana Pacers have built a reputation on playoff appearances rather than championship contention. They have earned a postseason bid in six of the last seven years and garnered attention, historically, for their hard-nosed approach to defense.
Unfortunately for them, their run of pleasant mediocrity has officially hit a snag. Superstar Paul George leveraged his upcoming free agency into a trade, and while the Pacers elected to stave off a complete rebuild by acquiring Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in exchange for his services from the Oklahoma City Thunder, they don't figure heavily in the NBA's playoff pecking order for the foreseeable future. Dark days are coming for this squad. So be ready, Indiana.
Indiana Hoosiers (College Basketball)
Few college basketball programs are more storied than the Indiana University's Hoosiers. They became NCAA tournament staples under head coach Bob Knight from the mid-1970s through the end of the 1990s, a run of consistent dominance that spanned two national titles.
In recent years, since Knight's departure, the school has fallen on hard times by its own standards. Indiana has missed the tournament seven times in the past 14 years, including the most recent season, during which time they've scooted passed the second round only three times.
Indiana's Biggest Sporting Event of the Year
This is a no-brainer pick. The Indy 500 is one of the United States' most popular Nascar races, without exception or caveat. It is held every year around Memorial Day Weekend, and just to give you an idea of how popular it is within Indiana consider where it's held: Indianapolis Motor Speedway...in Speedway, Indiana.
And if the official address including the word "Speedway" doesn't do enough for you, the fact that the stadium itself currently holds up to 235,000 people should be all the evidence you need to understand this race's popularity.