French Lick, other casinos prep for sports wagering


Casinos across Indiana are preparing to launch legalized sports betting after a new state law was passed this spring allowing betting on international, professional and collegiate sports to start Sept. 1.

The new law will allow sports wagering by anyone 21 or older at a casino or by mobile devices after a bettor has registered with a casino in the state. The betting app will only work inside state borders, meaning people from outside the state will have to cross into Indiana to place a wager.

Casinos are rushing to get operations up and running as quickly as possible with the NFL and collegiate football seasons starting up.

Tessa Higgs, a public relations coordinator at French Lick Resort, said their process is changing daily in how they are preparing for sports wagering at their casino, but declined to comment further.

“Right now we are not in a position to expand on talking about the sports betting,” she said. “We are just moving through the regulations right now and trying to get that all taken care of through the Indiana Gaming Commission.”

There are a number of regulations casinos must comply with before they can offer sports wagering. Vendors must also get approval for internal controls, receive certification from the Indiana Testing Lab, inspect the data center, set up self-restriction and voluntary-exclusion programs and meet geolocation requirements.

All vendors must also pay an initial $100,000 fee for a vendor’s license, and the Indiana Gaming Commission requires an additional $50,000 in annual renewal payments thereafter.

The IGC issued temporary licenses to all 13 casinos in the state, allowing them to offer sports wagering by the start of football season if they comply with regulations.

Sports betting is now legal in 18 states, 11 of which have legalized wagering since the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting in 2018.

The ruling overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prevented states from legalizing sports betting in the U.S., excluding Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana.

“The obvious answer is that Congress wanted to ‘keep sports gambling from spreading,’” Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the court’s opinion. “It feared that widespread sports gambling would ‘threaten to change the nature of sporting events from wholesome entertainment for all ages to devices for gambling.’”

State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, was a sponsor of HB 1015 this past legislative session, and co-authored many similar bills in past legislative sessions that would legalize sports betting in the state.

Messmer said state congressional leaders were awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision before hearing any bill on the issue. He hopes the legislation will persuade consumers to stop using black market wagering sites, which will allow for more protections under a regulated process.

“Sports betting is going to happen within your state footprint whether you have regulations or not,” he said. “It’s a win for the consumers that choose to participate in it, and it’s a win for the state from the potential tax revenue that it can generate.”

Sports betting alone is expected to generate $56.2 million in revenue in Indiana this year, according to gaming research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, with $26.1 million of that figure coming from mobile wagering. The firm estimates Indiana will collect anywhere from $10 million to $15 million in tax revenue in the first year of a 9.5% tax on winnings.

This year, Indiana has collected $19,530,329 in wagering taxes on non-sports wagering from the French Lick Casino.

The Indiana Gaming Commission gave all 13 casinos in Indiana a temporary sports wagering license while a full license is under consideration. Casinos can offer wagering on 19 sporting events, including baseball, hockey, football, tennis and boxing. Online fantasy sports vendors that are allowed to operate in Indiana include DraftKings, FanDuel, FantasyDraft and Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

Indiana casinos hope to attract gamblers from Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky, states that still outlaw sports betting.

Indiana needs to stay competitive in the industry as it now faces competition from surrounding states like Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee and new technology, said Gov. Eric Holcomb in a prepared statement after he signed HB 1015 into law on May 8.

“By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers,” he said. “Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs, both permanent and in construction.”

Holcomb will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor potential effects of the law in order to make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.

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