Indiana sportsbooks resurgent in March thanks to NCAA Tournament

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Indiana‘s sportsbooks reversed their February dip in March, using a completely home-grown NCAA Tournament to push monthly betting volume past the $300m mark, according to PlayIndiana, which provides news and analysis of the state’s gaming industry.

Sportsbooks brought in $316.7m in wagers in March, the second-highest tally for a month in the Hoosier State and up 15.6% from $273.9m in February. Only January’s record of $348.2m topped March’s results, pushing Indiana’s lifetime handle to $3.1bn since launch.

They also generated $26.4m in revenue, a 55.4% increase from $17m in February, and only surpassed by the record $29.3m set in January. March’s revenue yielded $2.5m in state taxes.

PlayIndiana analyst Jessica Welman noted: “We expect to see high volume across most legal US markets in March, but Indiana’s circumstances were unique with March Madness played entirely in Indiana. 

“It’s hard to know just how much it moved the needle, but March’s results were clearly fueled by a huge volume of NCAA Tournament games all in one place and by a number of fans who traveled to Indiana and then bet legally as they attended games. We may never see a betting event quite like that ever again.”

Year-on-year, March’s handle was up 323.3% from $74.8m in March 2020, a month marred by the pandemic-related shutdown of major US sports.

“What a difference a year makes, even if comparing this year to last year is apples and oranges,” said fellow analyst Nicole Russo. “Beyond the shutdowns, so much has changed in Indiana’s landscape.

“Yet, the state continues to fare well in large part because its regulatory framework has been fair and unlike its neighbors in Illinois, consistent. That has created a resilient state industry able to withstand increased competition from neighboring states and a brutal pandemic.”

Online betting accounted for 88.1%, or $279.2m, of the state’s handle, a modest decrease from 88.4% in February. $160.6m of March’s bets were on basketball, a dramatic increase from $127.2m in February as March Madness gripped the attention of bettors.

“For a basketball-crazy state like Indiana, a dearth of local teams could have really lowered the state’s handle,” Welman added. “But it appears that the proximity of the tournament made up for a lack of Indiana representation.”

DraftKings/Ameristar Casino led the state’s operators with $111.2m in online bets, up from $107.4m in February and accounting for 39.8% of the state’s online handle. The month produced $8.5m in receipts, up from $3.7m in January. FanDuel/Blue Chip Casino was second with $92.4m in bets, up from $70.9m in February.

$37.5m in bets were placed at retail sportsbooks In March, up from $32.9m in February. Hollywood Lawrenceburg led the retail market with $10.8m in wagers.

Operators in Indiana may also receive a boost from Illinois, where Governor JB Pritzker reinstated in-person registration for that state’s online sportsbooks. That decision could make traveling across the border from the Chicago area more appealing.

“Indiana has always been a market that has capitalized on large markets just across its borders,” Russo said. “Illinois’ decision could modestly move the needle, especially for the Chicago-area casinos that have always counted on out-of-state bettors as a significant portion of their customer base.”