Written by Andrew Walker
Fresh on the heels of Iowa and Montana passing bills, the Hoosier state is one gubernatorial signature away from entering the world of sports wagering. Indiana, including the aforementioned states, will join Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island as states where sports wagering is legal.
One of the biggest conversation points among state representatives is how much taxed revenue any given state will see from legalizing sports wagering. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is fully expected to sign this bill into law sometime next week. Unlike politicians in other states, Holcomb and other Hoosier leaders won’t be solely relying on sports wagering as a source of income for the state. An optimistic projection by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) is about $20.3 million in annual revenue. Indiana has nearly $2 billion budget reserve already, rendering any revenue from sports wagering inconsequential. Where this benefits casinos, wagering apps and the casual gambler is the comparatively low taxable income percentage. Indiana will enact a 9.5% tax on sports wagering, which is a far cry from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his proposed 20% sports wagering tax. In addition to wagering on sports at casinos, Indiana residents will be able to wager via mobile devices from the comfort of their own home or live at any sporting event.
Football is estimated to make up 77 percent of US sports wagering. College football sports wagering has long been a contested front, mostly because of the controversy around player compensation. The bill makes no reference allowing or restricting collegiate sports wagering, although there is a clause that reads, “No betting on e-sports or amateur athletes under the age of 18.” For such a landmark change in policy, it leaves a lot of discretion up to the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC). After Gov. Holcomb is expected to sign the bill, I wouldn’t be surprised if the IGC puts some sort of sanction on legal betting for collegiate athletics. This wouldn’t come as a surprise given the NCAA headquarters is located in Indianapolis. The NCAA’s official statement on collegiate gambling is, “The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contest and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.”
Given the NCAA’s hard stance against sports wagering and the relative non-specific nature of the bill, I’d say the average college football fan might be able to legally participate in sports wagering for the 2019-20 season, but expect there to be serious overhauls in the law in the coming years. With state tax revenue from sports wagering basically inconsequential, the IGC and NCAA will most likely be given freedom to make any changes they want to the terms of collegiate sports wagering. But for now, sports wagering for professional and collegiate athletics has arrived in Indiana.