Sports wagering opens in Indiana

Patrons place the first sports wagers Sept. 1, 2019, at Ameristar Casino in East Chicago.

Indiana saw nearly three times as much money wagered on sports in October — the second full month of legal sports betting in the Hoosier State — than September, with much of the surge attributable to sports bets placed using mobile devices, instead of at casinos.

Altogether, $91.7 million was wagered on sports in Indiana last month, compared to $34.5 million in September, according to data released Friday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Sports bets placed at casino windows or kiosks totaled $43.7 million. Mobile wagering, which only began Oct. 3 through two of the state's 13 casinos, attracted $48 million in sports bets last month.

Ameristar Casino in East Chicago was one of the first to launch mobile sports wagering through its partnership with DraftKings — and Hoosiers clearly were eager for it.

More than half of the Indiana sports bets placed in October went through Ameristar, with $39.4 million of the $46.2 million in total wagers at Ameristar coming via mobile.

Jeff Morris, vice president for public affairs at Ameristar owner Penn National Gaming, said company policy prohibits commenting on individual property performance.

"But we have been pleased thus far with our new sportsbook," Morris said.

Blue Chip Casino saw similar high interest in its FanDuel mobile sportsbook.

It attracted $2.4 million in wagers during its 10 days of operation in October, compared to $4.6 million in sports bets placed at the Michigan City casino over all 31 days of the month.

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Noah Hirsch, vice president and assistant general manager at the Hammond Horseshoe Casino, said the state's top grossing casino is continuing to work with its parent company, Caesars Entertainment, on getting a mobile wagering application in the hands of its patrons.

"Our guests are eagerly awaiting that and we're definitely encouraged by the numbers that mobile is putting up in Indiana," Hirsch said. "We'll definitely want to have a piece of that as well."

In the meantime, Hirsch said The Book at the Horseshoe is bringing more visitors and excitement to the Hammond casino floor, as well as boosting food and beverage sales throughout the property.

The Book in October recorded $10.7 million in sports wagers. It soon will add 16 betting kiosks to its 10 sports book ticket writers for 24-hour wagering, Hirsch said.

"The sportsbook is very much like a craps table here," Hirsch said. "You can feel when the crowd is leaning toward one game: the cheers all start to happen, people start to get a little bit louder and excited.

"For someone that wants the experience of watching sports, it's hard to beat the sports book environment."

Aside from sports wagering, Northwest Indiana's casinos in October collectively saw 0.5% growth in "win," or revenue after paying bets, compared to October 2018.

Blue Chip (4.9%) and Horseshoe (3.7%) led the way in year-over-year growth, while Ameristar (-3.7%) and the Majestic Star casinos in Gary (-6.3%) lagged.

Statewide, casino win increased 1% in October versus the same month one year ago.


Financial Affairs Reporter

Dan has reported on Indiana state government for The Times since 2009. He also covers casinos, campaigns and corruption.