he Indiana Gaming Commission has released draft regulations to implement House Enrolled Act 1015, which legalized sports wagering in the state, that the commission is set to approve at its August 28 meeting, so Hoosiers will likely be able to begin placing in-person bets at casinos on professional and college sporting events sometime around September 1, with betting via mobile devices coming later. If the regulations are adopted without significant changes, the experience of placing a sports bet at an Indiana casino will be similar to betting on a horse race at the track or an off-track betting facility.
The Gaming Commission has issued 12 temporary sports betting permits to casinos and off-track betting facilities in the state. The Temporary Certificate of Authority can be issued by the state regulator while their license applications are processed, allowing them to launch wagering while the Commission decides whether or not to issue a full license. Twelve of the state’s licensed gaming venues were handed out temporary operating approval last week, on July 12.
Patrons will place their wager either with a person at a walk-up window or using a nearby electronic kiosk. In return, they'll get a ticket listing the bet that is turned in to receive a payout if the patron has won. The regulations require casinos to display the sporting events available for wagering, along with the corresponding odds. Bets can be placed using cash, credit or debit, though a verified patron account is required for credit, debit and mobile wagers.
According to the rules, patrons are entitled to refunds of their bets if a sporting event is cancelled for any reason. At the same time, if a sports league believes a sporting event is fixed or manipulated, or otherwise has "good cause" as to why it shouldn't be the subject of wagers, it can request the Indiana Gaming Commission prohibit bets on a particular event or ban specific types of wagers.
Likewise, casinos and mobile sports wagering operators are required to report unusual wagering activity to all other Indiana sports wagering operators through an independent integrity monitoring provider.
Dan Nita, Caesars regional president and Hammond Horseshoe general manager, said he appreciates that the proposed regulations allow Indiana casinos to create the sports betting environment they believe is best for their patrons, subject to some standard conditions and surveillance requirements.
"We've been encouraged by the draft regs," Nita said. "Maintaining the integrity of the operation is first and foremost. But each property is a bit unique. So the ability to have some flexibility as to how the sports book is laid out, and where you place kiosks, and what kind of screens you have, I think those are more operational in nature and so we've been pleased with that."
Nita said the Horseshoe this week will start construction on a 5,300-square foot sports wagering area on its casino floor, at the base of the escalator that goes to the Village Square Buffet and The Venue concert hall, to maximize foot traffic and make people aware sports betting is available.
Gaming Commission records show that as of Friday all five Region casinos are temporarily authorized to conduct sports wagering once state regulations are in place and the statutory ban is lifted September 1. The Penn National Gaming-operated Ameristar Casino East Chicago, Boyd Gaming’s Belterra Casino Resort and Blue Chip Casino and four Caesars Entertainment properties have been cleared to launch from that date.
The sportsbook at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City will be run by FanDuel as part of a nationwide strategic partnership inked last year between the fantasy sports operator and Blue Chip owner Boyd Gaming. Details on sportsbook operations at the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago and the Majestic Star casinos in Gary have yet to be announced. Indiana's quick adoption of sports wagering rules may have the added effect of luring Illinoisans to Northwest Indiana casinos this fall to bet on their favorite football teams.
While Illinois lawmakers also legalized sports wagering in July, due to multiple vacancies it's unlikely the Illinois Gaming Board will get its regulations in place for Illinois casinos to begin accepting sports bets before the end of the year.