Indiana Casino Association expects big boost in sports betting amid March Madness

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INDIANAPOLIS – State officials expect there will be a big boost in sports betting throughout the March Madness tournament.

“The first four days of the tournament are the best of the entire year,” Nick Bogdanovich, a booker with William Hill US, said. “It’s off the charts.”

Sports betting became legal in Indiana in September 2019. To date, the Indiana Casino Association confirms Hoosiers have bet more than $2.5 billion. Most of that has been on football and basketball.

“We’re a basketball state, people enjoy it,” Matthew Bell, the president and CEO of the Casino Association, said.  “With the attention Indianapolis will garner through the NCAA tournament, we think Indiana sports books and Indiana’s casino operators will benefit from that greatly.”

All of the money wagered within Indiana will stay in Indiana. The casinos will take a three to five percent cut, with nearly ten percent of the money will go toward the state’s general fund and the rest will be paid out to the winners.

The Casino Association said Indiana has made about $20 million in extra revenue since sports betting was legalized. Those funds were appreciated even more when the state shut down for months amid the pandemic.

“One of the very thoughtful policies the general assembly passed was the ability to place sports wagers from a mobile device,” Bell explained. “You were not required to go into a brick-and-mortar casino and that became important when our Indiana casinos were closed for 91 days.”

Bell said because Hoosiers were able to legally bet from their mobile devices, it helped Indiana continue to generate revenue.

During the pandemic, professional sports shut down. Gamblers started betting on unique activities, instead.

“We were scratching our heads trying to figure out what to do, Bogdanovich recalled. “We turned to some sports out of the country like rugby and low level soccer in some countries like Turkey that kept going on.”

Bogdanovich said people started betting on Russian ping pong, sumo and English pub darts.

UFC was the first sport to return to the US market. Golf, tennis and Nascar followed.

“The sports that usually don’t have a focus on them? They really got the attention for a while and picked up some market share,” Bogdanovich said.

People typically bet about $30 on a game or participant. Sometimes, they will wager millions of dollars.

“Anytime you win or lose money, that’s exciting,” he went on.

Often, sports fans will wager on future bets.

“I want to go bet $20 today that the Colts will win the Super Bowl next year,” Bell explained. “Or I want to bet $50 today that the Pacers will win the NBA championship.”

Bell said parlay bets are also popular among Indiana gamblers.

“I want to bet on the Pacers and the Colts at the same time. That’s called a parlay. That becomes a popular bet. Your odds payout increases if you win both of those unrelated contests,” he went on.

Experts believe gambling also keeps people engaged in the game. Typically, if there was a blowout match, people watching would tune out. When they have money on the game, studies have shown people stick around for up to 79 minutes longer.

The Indiana Casino Association anticipates there will be an expansion in gambling eventually. Bell said it’s possible the state will consider allowing e-sports betting in the future. It, too, could generate a lot of extra revenue.

“When you go to some of the e-sport league championships, they’re live streamed on several internet applications. Viewership is greater than the Super Bowl and the seventh game of the NBA finals combined,” Bell told CBS4. “I think it’s just a new generation who enjoys that as a contest as opposed to watching a four-quarter football game.”

Several states already allow e-sports betting, including Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee and West Virginia.

The Casino Association also expects there to be changes in technology. That would allow people to bet on moves during the game.

“Can you bet on every pitch and every ball or strike? It’s hard to do that because technology doesn’t work that fast. Every time a bet is settled, it has to be certified by our regulators before it can be paid out so if you’re trying to certify 300 pitches in a baseball game, it’s very difficult to do,” Bell said.

If technology were to allow for faster wagering and certification, Hoosiers may be able to bet differently in the future.

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