Indiana State Senator Going All-In on Legal Sports Betting

By Jordan Bianchi

January 29th, 2019 - 11:19am

Seven states have legalized sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling last May, while several states are either in the process of passing similar bills or considering to do so.

Indiana is among that group attempting to join Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia as states where sports betting became legal following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Several Indiana lawmakers have spoken publicly regarding their desire to introduce legislation that would allow the public to legally wager on sports.

"We know that there's a large illegal market for sports wagering," State Senator Jon Ford (R-Indianapolis) said, according to WTWO-TV. "They say as much as 300 million in Indiana. So, for me it's getting it that off the street and getting it into a regulated environment."

Building Momentum in Indiana

In October, the state interim Committee on Public Policy voted unanimously (9-0) to recommend that the General Assembly consider legislation to allow sports gambling within Indiana.

Lawmakers made the recommendation after hearing testimony from the several entities that would potentially be impacted, including the NBA and the NCAA. Both the NBA’s Pacers and the NCAA are located in Indianapolis, Indiana’s capital and largest city.

The committee did not offer specific recommendation on how sports betting should be regulated.

Coinciding with the October committee meeting convening, the Indiana Gaming Commission released a report compiled by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming analyzing the potential economic impact on the state were sports betting legalized.

The report projected that by the fifth year, sports gambling in Indiana could generate as much as $256 million annually, with the state directly benefiting to the tune of $148 million annually via license fees, tax revenues and other sources.

The Indiana Gaming Commission commissioned Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a California-based market research firm specializing in gaming and sports betting, to analyze the economic impact on Indiana should it legalize sports gambling.

Will There be Integrity Fees?

Ford and Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute) plan to introduce bills on legalizing sports gambling in Indiana’s General Assembly, according to the Indianapolis Star. The 2019 General Assembly convened Monday for its 2019 session, and it is expected several bills pertaining to gambling will be introduced, including topics involving charity gaming, casino locations, taxes and fees.

Ford’s bill to legalize sports betting does not include an “integrity fee,” something that was included in a bill introduced before the General Assembly last year by Morrison. That bill, which garnered national attention because of the fee that would’ve given a cut of revenue generated to sports leagues, ultimately failed.

When Daniel Spillane, NBA senior vice president of league governance & policy, spoke before the Committee on Public Policy in October, an “integrity fee” was one of four main requests the league had if the state were to legalize sports betting.

On any bets placed on NBA games, the league sought a 0.25 percent royalty paid to the league. That request was not agreed upon by Indiana lawmakers.

"I think that in this session, clearly, we'll have a lot of discussion on different areas in gaming," Ford said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “… It's time to have these frank discussions. We want to be as consistent as possible, but also, the gaming industry is changing, and changing around us."
Written By
Jordan Bianchi

Jordan Bianchi writes about sports gambling for His work has appeared in numerous reputable online eGaming and sports publications including Reuters, Yahoo, SB Nation, Sporting News, Autoweek and much more. He’s covered a wide array of sports including... Read More

Jordan Bianchi writes about sports gambling for His work has appeared in numerous reputable online eGaming and sports publications including Reuters, Yahoo, SB Nation, Sporting...

Read More