Per plans made public by regulators and operators, recently legalized sports betting in Indiana is set to launch on September 1.
That would make the Hoosier State the 12th to join Nevada in offering regulated sports betting, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to repeal a federal ban on the betting industry in May of 2018.
Iowa became the 10th state with legal sports betting on August 15. Meanwhile, a tribal casino in Oregon plans to offer the sports betting services on August 27, as newly regulated markets look to go live before the start of lucrative college and professional football seasons.
Based on the targeted launch date of September 1, bettors in Indiana can wager on Hoosiers football beginning with Week 2 action against Eastern Illinois on Saturday, September 7.
However, the real draw for sportsbook operators like Penn National Gaming – which runs Ameristar Casino East Chicago, the first venue expected to open its doors on September 1 – is the National Football League (NFL).
According to statistics compiled by the American Gaming Association (AGA), the NFL generates by far the highest “handle” – or total dollar amount in wagers placed – for regulated sportsbooks, attracting billions in bets annually.
Those eye-popping numbers compelled Indiana’s sportsbook operators and gaming regulators alike to begin accepting bets before the NFL’s regular-season kickoff on September 5.
In a statement issued by Matt Schuffert – who serves as general manager of Ameristar Casino East Chicago – the betting shop located just across the border from Illinois will look to capitalize on Chicago Bears fever beginning with Week 1:
“Our customers are very excited to start wagering on sports.
The passion for Indiana and Illinois sports teams runs deep in this region, and we look forward to becoming a destination for fans all year-round.”
To emphasize the Chicago connection, Indiana’s first legal sportsbook will have Bears legends Mike Ditka – head coach of the franchise’s only Super Bowl champion squad in 1985 – and electric kick returner extraordinaire Devin Hester on hand opening day to commemorate the historic launch.
The Bears are currently ranked as a Top-5 contenders in terms of odds to win Super Bowl 54, and they’ll take the field on Thursday, September 5 in the NFL’s first game of the 2019 season. Illinois passed its own sports betting legislation in June of this year, but the state’s gaming regulators aren’t rushing to launch in time for football season.
In a press release, Penn National Gaming’s chief executive officer Timothy Wilmott promised Indiana bettors a world-class sportsbook experience at Ameristar Casino East Chicago:
“Penn National looks forward to opening a sportsbook and providing our customers with another great amenity at Ameristar Casino East Chicago.
One day before the Bears face their archrivals the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field, the largest casino in Indiana will open the state’s most expansive sportsbook.
The Horseshoe Hammond casino plans to complete construction on a 5,300-square-foot sports betting facility dubbed “The Book.” Boasting a 100-person seating capacity, six dedicated betting windows, and 16 LED television screens measuring 85 inches apiece, The Book at Horseshoe Hammond is expected to become a prime attraction for Illinois-based bettors.
So says Noah Hirsch, assistant general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, who told The Times of Northwest Indiana that sports betting should bring a new buzz to the state’s premier gaming destination:
“We’re really excited for the energy that it will bring to our casino and to our gaming floor.
We think we’re going to be the premier sportsbook for the region, including the Illinois side, for the foreseeable future.”
According to the Indy Star, bettors in Indiana could have up to 12 sportsbooks to choose from by the time the calendar flips to October.