Lycka: Indiana is the new frontier for online casino

Indiana statehouse
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The always curious Martin Lycka, Entain’s SVP for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling, went down the rabbit hole on where the term Hoosier came about and how the previous pioneers might be the United States’ best hope to regulate iGaming in 2023:

AD 2023 has rolled in like a freight train and, just like many years before, we expect another 365 days of boundless joy, fun, and merriment on the regulatory front. In the United States of A (still by far the most watched online gambling market of nowadays), the new year promises to be a year of responsible gambling and advertising as well as iGaming, or if you will, online casino and poker.

Saying that only six states in the nation – with Nevada dabbling with online poker – have allowed for the product category so far would at first blush appear to be Trumpesque fake news, especially compared with the 30 plus that have done the honorable thing and regulated sports betting.

Yet, ladies and gentlemen, dear readers, it is a fact that would get past even the Twitter news police. Let’s give those fearless six a shout out – here we go: New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Connecticut. The big question is whether their ranks will swell throughout this year and to what extent. A number of states are looking at regulating online casino. Indiana and New York have established themselves as the two frontrunners in terms of getting it across the proverbial line with a 2023 time stamp.

As much as I’m fond of the great Empire State just across the Hudson River, and I shall indeed be cheering Senator Joseph Addabbo in his quest to bring a new online gambling category to the state, a hell lot of ink tends to get spilled on the fashionable New Yorkers. So, to balance the books a little, in this piece I’d like to concentrate on the Hoosiers and their brave efforts to add another item to their portfolio of online gambling products.

Being a relative newbie to my American homeland, I’ve still got plenty to learn, including nicknames of the inhabitants of the individual states. Whereas figuring out where Mainers or Washingtonians might be coming from is quite straightforward, Hoosiers require a little more digging. While doing the digging (and establishing rather quickly that in its modern use the word refers to the population of Indiana) it turns out the origin of Hoosier itself would appear to be shrouded in mystery that has even spawn several theories.

This length of this column will not allow for a long-winded scientific debate as to whether the word Hoosier or Hooshier has sprung up from travelers approaching a lone cabin and asking “who’s here?” or a publican’s good-natured inquisitive question “who’s ear?” might have suffered the most damage in a brawl the night before.

Let’s just say that the originally somewhat pejorative expression with reference to the rough outlandish nature of what has evolved into the modern-day Hoosier state of Indiana. The term had quickly solidified into a badge of honor for its bearers; folks considered to be amongst the bravest, most intelligent, and most enterprising of the Great West during the era Indiana was on the then-frontier of the US.

That has, of course, changed geographically speaking, but gambling-wise Indiana is on a new frontier. A frontier whose crossing could help usher the industry into the promised land of online casino gaming. A promised land that may ultimately be subject to the gold standard of consumer protection, be replete with nationwide liquidity, and a full-scale suite of attractive games. I shall hope that I am not daydreaming; at least not daydreaming too much … let’s stick to the latest tidings from Indiana:

It got close last year, and the Hoosier spirit of entrepreneurship and getting things done keeps pervading this year’s debate. An online casino bill is being finalized and is already scheduled to be discussed in the applicable House Committees in late January; the crossover to the Senate needs to happen by the end of February. The overall session will adjourn on April 27.

This is the timetable the bill’s champions, Representative Ethan Manning and Senator Jon Ford, will be navigating in the months to come on their journey to turning Indiana into a multi-product gaming state. We shall be willing them on and hoping that the answer to the Hoosier’s “who’s here” will be online casino gaming.