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State commission gives final OK for legal sports wagering at Indiana casinos
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State commission gives final OK for legal sports wagering at Indiana casinos

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INDIANAPOLIS — A new era in Indiana gambling begins Sunday when Hoosiers, for the first time, can place legal bets on sporting events.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Gaming Commission unanimously approved emergency rules to implement the sports wagering provisions of House Enrolled Act 1015, making Indiana the 13th state to fully legalize sports wagering after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a 1992 federal law restricting the practice.

The commission so far has authorized casinos to accept wagers on up to 19 different professional and Division I college sports — everything from baseball, football and basketball to cricket, darts and sailing, as well as some international sports leagues and the winter and summer Olympic Games.

"It is our policy to only allow wagering on events which have integrity policies in place," said Sara Tait, IGC executive director.

Tait said it's up to Indiana's 13 commercial casinos to decide when they want to begin accepting sports bets after demonstrating compliance with the new rules and receiving commission approval to proceed.

She said three casinos have received "go live" authorization to launch sports wagering on Sunday: Ameristar East Chicago, Indiana Grand in Shelbyville and Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg.

In addition, Tait said the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond (Sept. 4) and the French Lick Casino (Sept. 6) also have received state approval to begin accepting sports bets on their chosen start dates.

"I would anticipate that the remaining proposals that we have before us, we'll get to soon," Tait said.

The Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City last week announced that it plans to begin accepting sports bets Sept. 5, the day of the first regular-season NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.

Spectacle Entertainment, owner of the Majestic Star casinos in Gary, is not planning to invest in a retail sports book with giant television sets, wager information boards and comfy chairs, since it plans to close the casinos late next year and relocate to the Hard Rock Casino Gary, which will have a traditional sports book.

Instead, Spectacle is planning to partner with online sports book operators, as permitted by Indiana law and the newly adopted rules, to soon offer mobile sports betting to adults age 21 and up using their telephones and other electronic devices.

Similar mobile sports wagering arrangements through other Region casinos are pending. Widespread mobile sports wagering is expected become available in Indiana late this year or early next year.

"Certainly operator focus is on retail right now, but we are in a very good position to do a quick pivot to mobile," Tait said.

At the casinos, the experience of placing a sports bet will be similar to betting on a horse race at the track or an off-track betting facility.

Patrons will place their wager either with a person at a walk-up window or using a nearby electronic kiosk. In return, they'll get a ticket listing the bet that is turned in to receive a payout if the patron has won.

The regulations require casinos to display the sporting events available for wagering, along with the corresponding odds. Bets can be placed using cash, credit or debit, though a verified patron account is required for credit, debit and mobile wagers.

According to the rules, patrons are entitled to refunds of their bets if a sporting event is cancelled for any reason.

At the same time, if a sports league believes a sporting event is fixed or manipulated, or otherwise has "good cause" as to why it shouldn't be the subject of wagers, it can request the Indiana Gaming Commission prohibit bets on a particular event or ban specific types of wagers.

Likewise, casinos and mobile sports wagering operators are required to report unusual wagering activity to all other Indiana sports wagering operators through an independent integrity monitoring provider.

"We have created a regulatory scheme that ensures the integrity of sports wagering in Indiana and fulfills our statutory mandate," Tait said.

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