Modest improvements at Indiana’s sportsbooks in May fell significantly short of clawing back what was potentially circa $160m worth of bets according to estimates from analysts at PlayIndiana.
And even with the prospect of sports returning to action, the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown could have more long-ranging effects on Indiana as neighboring states make their bids to open up sports betting to shore up dwindling budgets.
“In the short-term, the path to recovery is relatively straightforward,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayIndiana.com. “Sports must return. The good news is that the PGA Tour expected to start this weekend and the NBA and other major sports are closer to a return. The bottom line is that there is now a light at the end of this tunnel.”
Indiana’s online sportsbooks — which again accounted for the state’s entire handle — accepted $37.3m in bets in May, up 41.9% from the record-low $26.3m in April.
May’s wagers generated $3.2m in adjusted gross revenue, doubling the $1.6m in April, and yielded $302,097 in tax revenue for the state. But a more typical May would have attracted more than $200m in bets according to PlayIndiana estimates. Retail sportsbooks, which remain closed, would have alone generated nearly $45m in bets.
Bettors were afforded more wagering opportunities in May thanks to NASCAR and European soccer. That further helped boost bets on “other” sports than football, basketball, and baseball to $30.5m in May, up from $21m in April.
“Online sportsbooks have proven to be resilient,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com. “Operators have been remarkably creative in keeping bettors engaged, even with fringe sports as the main attraction. There is no making up for what has been lost, but weathering the storm has always been the priority. And I think most, if not all, have been successful so far in doing that.”
According to Gouker and his team, when the market does normalize Indiana will likely be facing some additional headwinds. As Indiana sports betting launched last fall, none of its neighbors had yet to legalize online or retail sports betting.
Now the picture has changed, with Michigan launching and Illinois going legal as well as eliminating its initial in-person registration requirement for online sportsbooks. Moreover, Ohio is moving its own sports betting bill through the statehouse.
“Indiana’s main advantage when it launched was that it had such limited competition in the Midwest,” Gouker said. “That is obviously changing, which was inevitable. But Indiana still has one of the most solid regulatory infrastructures in the U.S. And that will help keep the state ahead of the curve.”
Market leader DraftKings/Ameristar Casino generated $20.1m in bets, up from $13.6m in April. That yielded $1.8m in gross receipts, up from $908,322. FanDuel/Blue Chip Casino was second with a $12.3m handle, up from $9.7m, resulting in a $1.1m win, up from $558,155.
While online sportsbooks struggled to attract bettors, the market did receive a new competitor with the launch of the Caesars Sportsbook app in late May. That adds a shot of confidence in the future of the market.
“Adding a heavyweight like Caesars to Indiana’s mix will only help the market once it returns to something more closely resembling normal, Welman said. “It shows that operators still believe in the potential of the Indiana market even as it remains quiet.”