EAST CHICAGO — Ameristar Casino is likely to be among the very first locations in Indiana where Hoosiers and Illinoisans legally can bet on professional and college sporting events.
Penn National Gaming, the parent company of the East Chicago casino, announced Monday that sports wagering will begin Sept. 1 at Ameristar, pending final regulatory approval by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
The company did not specify what time the first sports bet will be accepted. But it said two Chicago Bears greats — former Head Coach Mike Ditka and Devin Hester, former wide receiver and return specialist — will be on hand to celebrate the launch.
"Penn National looks forward to opening a sports book and providing our customers with another great amenity at Ameristar Casino East Chicago," said CEO Timothy Wilmott.
"Indiana will soon become the 12th state to legalize sports betting following the repeal of the federal ban last year, and our patrons in Northwest Indiana can expect an incredible sports wagering experience at our facility."
The Ameristar sports book is located near the Stadium Sports Bar and Grill and the casino's main entrance.
It features large odds boards and numerous televisions for customers to watch games on whose outcomes they have a stake, as well as to pick out other events on which to wager.
According to Wilmott, players will have the option of placing their bets directly with a sportsbook writer or using sports betting kiosks in the area.
Sports betting through Ameristar Casino using mobile devices is expected to begin in the near future.
"Our customers are very excited to start wagering on sports," said Matt Schuffert, Ameristar general manager. "The passion for Indiana and Illinois sports teams runs deep in this region, and we look forward to becoming a destination for fans all year-round."
The Hammond Horseshoe Casino previously announced that it plans to begin accepting sports bets on Sept. 4, one day before the Chicago Bears meet the Green Bay Packers in the first regular season NFL match-up of the year.
The Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City also is expected to start taking sports wagers in September, though it has not yet announced a specific date.
Sports betting likewise will be available eventually at the Majestic Star casinos in Gary.
Their parent company, Spectacle Entertainment, currently is focused on winning regulatory approval to relocate the casinos from Lake Michigan to a land-based site adjacent to the Borman Expressway at Burr Street, and beginning construction on its new Hard Rock Casino Gary.