Modest improvements at Indiana’s sportsbooks in May fell significantly short of clawing back what, according to estimates by analysts at PlayIndiana, was potentially about $160 m bets.
And even with the prospect of sports returning to action, the COVID-19 lockdown ‘s consequences could have more long-range effects on Indiana as neighbouring states make their bids to open up sports betting to shore up dwindling budgets.
Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayIndiana.com said: “In the short-term, the path to recovery is relatively straightforward. Sports must return. The good news is that the PGA Tour expected to start this weekend and the NBA and other major sports are closer to a return. The bottom line is that there is now a light at the end of this tunnel.”
Indiana ‘s online sportsbooks — which again accounted for the whole handle of the state — accepted $37.3 million in bets in May, up 41.9 percent from the record low of $26.3 million in April.
May’s wagers generated $3.2 m in adjusted gross revenue, doubling April’s $1.6 m, and yielding the state $302,097 in tax revenue. Yet according to PlayIndiana forecasts a more traditional May would have drawn more than $200 m in bets. Retail sportsbooks, which remain closed, would have generated almost $45 million in bets alone.
Thanks to NASCAR and European football, Bettors were offered more wagering opportunities in May. That further helped boost bets on “other” sports than football, basketball and baseball in May to $30.5 m , up from April’s $21 m.
Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com said: “Online sportsbooks have proven to be resilient.
“Operators have been remarkably creative in keeping bettors engaged, even with fringe sports as the main attraction. There is no making up for what has been lost, but weathering the storm has always been the priority. And I think most, if not all, have been successful so far in doing that.”
According to Gouker and his staff, Indiana will likely face some additional headwinds when the market does standardise. None of its neighbours has yet to legalise electronic or retail sports betting as Indiana sports betting launched last fall.
Now the picture has changed, with Michigan launching and Illinois going legal as well as eliminating their initial requirement for online sportsbook registration in person. In addition, Ohio is pushing its own sports betting bill through the statehouse.
Gouker said: “Indiana’s main advantage when it launched was that it had such limited competition in the Midwest. That is obviously changing, which was inevitable. But Indiana still has one of the most solid regulatory infrastructures in the U.S. And that will help keep the state ahead of the curve.”
Market leader DraftKings / Ameristar Casino has produced bets of $20.1 m , up from April’s $13.6 m. That yielded gross receipts of $1.8 m , up from $908,322. FanDuel / Blue Chip Casino was second with a handle of $12.3 m , up from $9.7 m, resulting in a win of $1.1 m , up from $558.155
While online sportsbooks struggled to attract bettors, with the launch of the Caesars Sportsbook app in late May, the market received a new competitor. That adds a shot of consumer confidence in the future.
“Adding a heavyweight like Caesars to Indiana’s mix will only help the market once it returns to something more closely resembling normal,” Welman said. “It shows that operators still believe in the potential of the Indiana market even as it remains quiet.”