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Quite a bit of sports betting money blew right out of the Windy City and into Indiana in September.
The September revenue report for Indiana sports betting shows $35 million in handle and a robust $8.5 million in revenue. A rough calculation shows better than 24% hold, a wildly successful month for any sports betting operator. Add in the fact that mobile sports betting in Indiana didn’t launch until October, and it’s that much more impressive.
That napkin sketch comes with a small caveat from Indiana gaming regulators: Total handle includes futures bets, so an unspecified amount remains in limbo. Judging by the initial reaction from Indiana sportsbooks, one can assume this includes a healthy number of Chicago Bears tickets.
Hoosiers alone did not create that strong September, though. Comparing the list of IN sports betting operators to a map of their locations confirms the strong influence of Chicago bettors.
The top two Indiana sportsbooks in terms of handle were Horseshoe Hammond at almost $9 million and Ameristar East Chicago at more than $5.4 million. That means better than 40% of all Indiana sports bets were placed through a casino located less than 25 miles from downtown Chicago.
Chicago-area bettors do not have an option to bet in Illinois. The state legislature passed a massive and complex gaming expansion bill, including Illinois sports betting this year, but it will take at least a few months for implementation to begin.
That $35 million in handle arrived entirely via retail sportsbooks in Indiana. While the state became first to authorize retail and mobile sports betting launches in tandem, the first mobile app did not start up until Oct. 3.
French Lick Casino received the first approval, followed shortly after by the launch of the DraftKings Sportsbook at Ameristar. More Indiana sports betting apps are expected in 2019, as 15 locations now accept sports wagers in the state.
The spread of mobile sports betting in Indiana could at least temporarily capture market share from Chicago and the surrounding areas of Illinois. Area residents would need only to travel over state borders into Indiana to establish an account; no in-person signup is required.
Placing a wager in Indiana does not require a person to be a resident of the state. A bettor needs only to be located within the Hoosier State to play legally. Illinois will need to clean up its plan to launch legal sports betting quickly to compete with its neighbor.