Basketball gave a boost to Indiana’s retail and online sportsbooks last month, helping them to post a record January and firm up the state’s position as the nation’s fourth-largest legal sports betting market. 

And with the state enjoying its role as the sports betting capital of the Midwest and new online sportsbooks opening in time for the close to the college basketball season, Indiana could begin to put heat on Pennsylvania to become the nation’s third largest, according to analysts from

“Indiana has built an impressive infrastructure that continues to maximize the market’s potential,” said Dustin Gouker, the firm’s lead analyst. “That should help keep the state a step ahead of its competition as neighboring states, such as Michigan, prepare for their own launches.”

Indiana’s $170.8m handle in January was up 9.5% from the then-record $161.8m in December. Adjusted gross revenue from those bets was $12.9m, up 9.3% from $12m. That yielded $1.2m in tax revenue for the state.

Interest in basketball was a catalyst in January, which also featured the NFL Playoffs and college football’s national championship game. Basketball boomed with $59.8m in bets, or 35% of the state’s handle. Football drew $36.7m.

Online sportsbooks generated $123.4m in bets in January. Online betting represented 72.2% of January’s handle, up from 69.5% in December. And more growth should come. PointsBet, BetIndiana, and BetMGM are all set for a February launch, bringing Indiana’s number of approved online sportsbook licensees to seven.

Indiana’s embrace of online betting, its near-monopoly of the Midwest, and close proximity to major out-of-state markets such as Chicago, have helped the state quickly position itself as the fourth-largest legal sports betting market in the US. While still well behind third-placed Pennsylvania — a much larger state by population that launched sports betting nearly one year ahead of Indiana — the Hoosier State is well positioned for more short-term growth.

“Indiana has been remarkably progressive in the way it has managed its sports betting industry, rivaling New Jersey as the most forward-thinking legal jurisdiction,” Gouker added. “Early adoption of online betting, which has been atypical among states with legal sports betting, has been an enormous boost. And innovations such as allowing prop bets for the Super Bowl and opening the door to Oscars betting show Indiana is willing to take risks in opening new markets, which will serve the state well.”

The newcomers have a long way to catch market leader DraftKings, which operates under Ameristar Casino’s license. DraftKings posted a $66m handle in January, down slightly from $66.7m in December. That generated $4.6m in gross receipts, down from $5m. But FanDuel/Blue Chip Casino inched closer with a $49.5m handle in January, up from $36m. That resulted in a $1.9m win, down from $2.2m.

Horseshoe Hammond’s proximity to Chicago continued to be a winner, leading the retail market with a $13.7m January handle, up from $13.4m in December. Those bets generated $1.8m in gross receipts, up from $1.1m. 

“Proximity to Chicago is still a critical advantage in the retail market, but that could change when Illinois launches retail betting, which could happen as early as March,” Gouker said. “FanDuel has made progress in the online market, but it can’t quite overcome DraftKings’ head start. But with new operators coming, the online market could be shaken up, too.”