Indiana Sports Betting Bill Clears Both Chambers, But Still Work Left To Do

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An Indiana bill that would legalize sports betting apps in Indiana is just a few small steps from the finish line.

The House considered S 552 on Monday, April 15, passing an engrossed version by a 78-15 vote after almost an hour of debate. The bill now heads back to the Senate for review, then onto the governor’s desk for a final decision.

If that process plays out smoothly, Indiana could become the ninth US state with legal sports betting — and the first new state to legalize it this year.

What’s in the Indiana sports betting bill?

The Indiana bill is a multi-faceted proposal to update the state’s gambling industry. In addition to legalizing sports betting, it would also create a new casino in Terre Haute and authorize table games at licensed horse racing tracks.

Lawmakers have proposed more than 30 amendments along the way, including several on the House floor last week. The ones adopted mostly deal with revenue allocation and licensing adjustments for brick-and-mortar casinos.

Sports betting provisions in the engrossed bill include:

  • In-person wagering at casinos, racetracks and OTBs
  • $10,000 license fee
  • 9.5% tax rate on revenue
  • 3.3% of AGR allocated to problem gambling

Sens. Mark Messmer and Jon Ford are the primary proponents of the effort to bring legal sports betting to Indiana.

Another plea for mobile sports betting

The removal of language authorizing statewide mobile betting marks the most significant change to the bill since the introduction. Those provisions were amended out in the committee of Rep. Ben Smaltz, but plans to reinsert them prior to passage are in place.

Speaking before his colleagues on Monday, Rep. Alan Morrison delivered the call to action.

“I certainly respect and appreciate the work that the Senate did, and then what Rep. Smaltz worked on. But I do believe that we’re missing a major component of it, and that’s the mobile part.”

Citing the lack of statewide mobile betting in Mississippi, Morrison urged his colleagues to reconsider. “We’re better than Mississippi,” he offered.

“We shouldn’t adopt a policy that they have which has decreased their revenues from sports wagering by more than 50%. And I understand it’s not all about dollars, but it’s a lot about dollars.

“When we take this back over to the Senate, I certainly think that we need to look at how the mobile language can get back into the bill and make sports wagering a very worthwhile endeavor for the state.”

Based on numbers out of New Jersey, mobile betting could represent closer to 80% of Indiana sports betting revenue in a mature market.

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Next stop: conference committee?

Since the House has amended the Senate’s bill, it must go back to the upper chamber for concurrence. That step is sometimes a simple formality, but it will not be so straightforward with this one in Indiana.

House lawmakers expect the Senate to reject their changes and send the bill to conference.

Under that committee process, one member of each caucus from each chamber will confer to iron out their differences. Mobile betting and the impact of casino realignment on local communities will continue to be the key topics of debate, should that materialize.

The bill sailed through the upper chamber by a 38-11 margin in February, so it’s not likely to die entirely in these late stages. What language it might include when it gets to the governor’s desk remains to be seen, but there is little threat of a veto.

Bettors should have a final answer on the provisions in short order. The session is scheduled to run through April 29 this year, but lawmakers expect to be done working in Indianapolis before April 25.

Eric Ramsey

About

Eric is a reporter and writer covering the US gambling industry, online poker, sports betting regulation, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.

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