What’s the current legal status surrounding sports betting in the US?

The legality of gambling in the US varies from state to state. While some areas of the country have been loosening regulation in recent years, other legislatures remain staunchly opposed to the idea of online casinos being legalized.

Indiana could – until recently of course – be placed firmly in this latter category. The Hoosier State has always been resistant to gambling legislation in any form and when sports betting was permitted in 2019, commentators were shocked. Sports betting in Indiana was introduced in time for the 2019 NFL season and was initially only available for in-person retail sportsbooks at casinos and off-track betting parlours.

Sportsbook operators in the state are required to partner with land-based brands to be able to offer Indiana sports betting. Major names in the industry such as DraftKings and FanDuel anticipated this being the case and had agreements in place ready to launch their offerings once the launch date was set. This has created a fiercely competitive sports betting industry in the Hoosier State, with more sportsbooks launching all the time.

Since this legislation has passed, the number of sports betting sites operating has absolutely skyrocketed so make sure you check out the top rated app on Gamble Indiana before setting up your first account.

The current gambling laws in Indiana would be best described as ‘contrasting’. On one hand the state is home to numerous land-based casinos and horse tracks. Additionally, as mentioned, Indiana allows online sports betting and was in fact one of the first states to legalize the popular daily fantasy sports game. It is not just sports betting that Indiana has taken a liberal approach to either. In January, the Hoosier state became just the second state in the country to legalize betting on the Academy Awards (Oscars).

However, at the other end of the spectrum, and forms of gambling that are not allowed under current laws, including any betting online, are not permitted under any circumstances. Those found guilty of such activities will face fines of up to $1,000 and could also face some time in jail. These are some of the most stringent gambling laws seen anywhere across the country.

With the legalisation of sports betting going well, Indiana is now considering allowing online casinos to operate in the state. One of the key reasons for the move is the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on state budgets. The coronavirus enforced shutdown has led to widespread unemployment and general economic stagnation.

This has had the knock-on effect of significantly decreasing the amount of tax and other revenue bolstering the state’s budget. In fact, according to Indiana’s State Budget Agency, the state’s received 7.8% less than it was projected to in the fiscal year of 2020. This decrease does not even take into account several of the worst months of the pandemic, meaning things could be even worse next year.

As the CEO of Full House Resorts Dan Lee explained: “There are pressures on state budgets like never before, and yet internet gaming is more socially acceptable,” Lee said. “Everybody is like, ‘Well, why not? We already have regular casinos. We already have sports betting that you can do online. Why wouldn’t we allow you to play a slot machine online?’ And so, it’s a good source of revenues to states.”

This revenue mainly comes from taxing online casino profits and charging for gaming licenses; however, this is not the only thing that makes the industry economically lucrative.

There is no doubt that gambling is becoming a huge opportunity to bring in much needed tax dollars for states. Tax revenue is typically the sole reason that legislatures approve gaming expansion bills and governors give their final sign off. In monetary terms, the gambling industry is worth approximately $1billion annually in tax revenue. The majority of the money will go into the state’s bank account, which is why more states are becoming so keen to see the legalization of gambling.

Indiana could also want to compete with neighbouring Michigan, who are launching iGaming state-wide later this year. The growth of this industry in the US will bring with it companies looking to set up offices and employing staff. In a time of serious economic downturn and unemployment, this is an attractive prospect for states and explains why Indiana is so keen to get the ball rolling.

If Indiana does decide to legalize online casino gaming, players can expect to see a wide range of options available to them. Those players who enjoy playing blackjack, roulette, slots and poker can also experience these games online. Furthermore, advances in technology mean a lot of online casinos now offer live dealer games. So, players in Indiana who enjoy the thrill of a live casino floor with a real dealer and now experience that from their own home.

Indiana’s desire to legalize online casinos is also explained by a simple demographics shift that is set to take place over the next few years. For the moment, the majority of older gamblers remain content with visiting brick and mortar casinos to place their bets and play various games.

This is likely to change when the next generation of younger gamers comes through. Brought up in a digital age, research suggests that newer gamers much prefer to do their gaming on their phones and tablets. Major casino brands recognize the need to provide sophisticated gambling apps to allow players to gamble on the go. In states such as New Jersey, gamers have numerous dedicated casino and sports betting apps available providing them with a swift and straightforward option to place bets remotely. Unless they have this option available, Indiana stands to lose a lot of revenue in the future.