Online sports gambling looms in Indiana

Don Knight, file | The Herald BulletinA horse and driver head out of the paddock before the running of the Dan Patch horse race at Hoosier Park in 2016.

ANDERSON — It’s been more than a month since Gov. Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1015, opening the door to legal online sports betting in Indiana.

Holcomb sounded off about the bill, and the gaming industry, claiming it will not only add to Indiana’s revenue but will create hundreds of permanent and construction jobs in the state.

“Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology,” Holcomb said in a statement. “By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers.”

In May, Pennsylvania became the latest state to give the OK to online sports gambling. Indiana is slated to be the next, along with Iowa. A few days after Holcomb announced the legalization of online sports betting, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds followed suit.

The Indiana Gaming Commission will start accepting applications from casinos, horse-racing casinos and off-track betting places for sports betting beginning on July 1. Yet, the Sept. 1 deadline to begin placing wagers through mobile devices shouldn’t be counted on. No promises have been made that date will be kept.

Harrah’s Hoosier Park & Casino, which has been newly purchased by Eldorado Resorts, is one such place that will benefit from the new legislation. It could be a smooth transition for the Anderson racino, which could implement many services already used at other Eldorado and Caesars locations.

Caesars Entertainment, which previously owned Harrah’s Hoosier Park & Casino, has an online sports booking app that is available for use within Nevada and New Jersey state lines. Other online or mobile betting can also take place in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

According to the application’s terms, location services must be enabled in order to use it. It’s unclear how Indiana will keep betting within state lines but other states where sports betting is legal use a technology called “geofencing” to keep gambling within state lines.

While betting on professional and college sports will be legal, placing wagers on high school, youth and e-sports events is still illegal.

Major events like the Super Bowl throw around plenty of money with prop bets like over/under on the length of time of the national anthem and the point spread after the first quarter. In Indiana, the Indianapolis 500 could follow in the Super Bowl’s footsteps.

Speaking with Racer Magazine, a publication devoted to the coverage of several motor sports, Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, plans to have several prop bets for next year’s race.

How those prop bets will work remains to be seen but Miles stated that official statistics would be used to ensure “absolute accuracy.”

Another large racing event that takes place the Saturday night before the Indianapolis 500 is the “Little 500” at Anderson Speedway.

While speedway owner Rick Dawson is keeping his eyes on what’s happening with sports betting, he’s not planning to “put our whole deck of cards into gaming.”

In addition to betting through a mobile device, in-person betting will also become legal on Sept. 1. However, that’s likely only to take place at casinos, where they plan to build specific areas for placing wagers at kiosks.

Should the law ever advance to allow on-site gambling like they have at the Kentucky Derby, then Dawson would be very interested in wagering coming to Anderson Speedway, he said.

Still, Dawson said he doesn’t expect that to happen anytime soon, citing his disdain that the law is allowing casinos to monopolize sports betting. But he does think it’s something that could add to the fan experience.

“Racing is just like anything else entertainment-wise; you’ve got to add to your racing program and you’ve also got to add to the fan experience,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be a major draw, because horse racing is not growing, and it’d be foolish to think we’d follow in their footsteps. But it’s an added bonus for the fans when they’re at the speedway.”

Should short-track racing ever take off into sports betting, Dawson believes many of the short tracks around the state and the country will ally themselves to make sure they can maximize the possibilities.

Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino was unable to respond to requests for comment.

Follow Dylan Trimpe @Trimp3 on Twitter. Email him at dylan.trimpe@heraldbulletin.com, or call 765-640-4840.