Inside INdiana Business

Indiana Sportsbooks slump in February, but gear up for March

The Indiana Gaming Commission says the February 2021 handle for Indiana sports books dipped to $274 million, down 21% from January. (photo courtesy: IIB)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Sports gamblers were less than enthusiastic about the Super Bowl as Indiana’s sportsbook came in less than anticipated, following five straight months of record wagers.  However, gaming analysts say record betting should return this month as a direct result of March Madness.

Data from the Indiana Gaming Commission shows Indiana sports gambling generated $274 million in wagers in February, compared to January’s record of $348 million, a decline of 21%.

“With two years of data now, I think it’s fair to say that the Super Bowl does not seem to drive as much interest in Indiana as in other event-dominated sports betting markets,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIndiana.com.

Analysts say fewer days in the month and a dip in the number of sports events also played a role in the drop. As a result, Indiana also saw a dip in tax revenue from sports wagering, coming in at $1.6 million.

However, as Indiana prepares to host the entire NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, gaming analysts expect wagering records to be broken once again.

“March promises to be an exciting month for Indiana sports betting with the March Madness tournament being held in its entirety in the state. The action from the tournament is sure to have sports betting numbers back to an upward trend,” said Bill Ordine, sports betting analyst, Gambling.com Group.

From a historical perspective, this will the first time the entire tourney will be played in a legal sports jurisdiction.

Analysts say residents of Illinois, where betting on in-state college teams is barred, could cross into Indiana “in significant numbers” to wager on local hopefuls such as the University of Illinois, which is currently ranked 5th  and the University of Loyola Chicago, which is ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press poll.

“It is nearly impossible to project the exact impact of the games ahead of next week’s tip-off,” Gouker said. “Hosting the entire tournament will almost certainly create a surge in interest in wagering on the games. Ultimately, this will be a fascinating case study in the importance of local sporting events to bettors.”

Retail (in-person) sportsbooks produced $32.9 million in February wagers, down from $41.3 million in February 2020.

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