Report Finds Indiana Online Casinos Won’t Kill Land-Based Casinos

Written By J.R. Duren on October 6, 2022
IRGC's research study concludes Indiana online casinos are not a bad idea

Casino operators across Indiana can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

A recent study from Spectrum Gaming Group indicated that bringing online casinos to Indiana will likely have no adverse effect on (“cannibalize”) the revenue of the state’s 11 land- and river-based casinos.

The move comes as regulators and legislators mull the legalization of Indiana online casinos. The report says:

“Based on the evidence from the states where iGaming has been introduced, there is little, if any, cannibalization of revenue from established casinos. This is particularly true in states where in-person gaming options are easily accessible to most of the population, such as in Delaware and West Virginia.

Based on the results in other iGaming states, Spectrum believes implementing iGaming in Indiana will have little impact on retail casino gaming revenues in the state.”

The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) hired Spectrum to do the study. The study is a part of IGC’s research into how online gambling would affect the state’s casinos.

Indiana online casinos likely won’t cut into land-based casino revenue

Spectrum took a look at how online casino rollouts affected casino gross gaming revenue in five states. The study found that, with one major exception, online casinos had a net positive effect on casino revenue.

  • Delaware: 6.7% gross gaming revenue growth
  • West Virginia: 1.1%
  • Pennsylvania: -1.7%
  • New Jersey: -5.6%
  • Michigan: -12.9%

Michigan is the exception. Its numbers reflect revenue from statewide online gambling but casino revenue only from commercial casinos in Detroit.

Michigan aside, the net effect on revenue in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware was +0.05%. It’s not much, but it does indicate the likelihood that land-based casinos won’t suffer from an online gambling market.

Indiana could also benefit from live-dealer online gambling. Spectrum believed that launching live-dealer games like poker could help the state’s job market. As long as the studios used for the games are located in Indiana. The report continues:

“Based on results in other states, live-dealer iGaming in Indiana could create many hundreds of jobs through the employment of dealers in purpose-built studios for this segment of gaming.

The significant economic impacts of live-dealer gaming can be realized if the studios are situated in the host state, as is required in four of the five current live-dealer iGaming states.”

Good news should ease land-based casinos’ fears

When a state considers launching online gambling, it has to consider several factors:

  • How many online gambling operators should it allow?
  • Should land-based casinos be the only entities allowed to have licenses?
  • How will an online casino launch affect land-based revenue?

That last question is a key one. As land-based casinos likely don’t want to see the traffic through their doors slow down in exchange for online revenue. And that’s certainly a valid concern in Indiana.

A recent bill proposed allowing casinos and horse tracks to have three “skins” (licenses) each to launch online casinos. With more than 30 online casinos on the table, competition would be fierce. And revenue from online casinos may be diluted.

Additionally, say inclement weather rolls through and gamblers who would otherwise drive to a casino decide to stay home. The casino loses the money it would make off hotel stays, restaurants, bars, and other amenities at its land-based property.

Spectrum’s report will likely provide a boost to online gambling proponents and ease casino fears. Casinos now have published proof that online casinos won’t hurt their business. In fact, it could help.

Online-based casino games could bring in younger patrons. Also, smaller casinos could benefit. If French Lick or Rising partnered with a brand that gamblers already know—or at least a brand with excellent marketing and promotions—they could capture a bigger market share than competitors like Horseshoe Hammond and Horsehoe Indianapolis.

Photo by PlayUSA/Shutterstock
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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