ANDERSON — The success of legalized sports betting in Indiana has surpassed the expectations of casino owners and legislators in its first two months and provided gaming officials with optimism that a new revenue stream will prove to be a boon for the state’s casinos and local governments alike.
According to data from the Indiana Gaming Commission, gamblers wagered a total of $91.7 million on sports in October, nearly triple the amount from September, when a new state law legalizing the enterprise took effect.
Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino opened its sports betting area, The Book, in mid-September, and the venue has exceeded expectations, officials said this week.
“It’s been an added amenity for the property,” said Trent McIntosh, senior vice president and general manager at Hoosier Park. “I think it’s allowed for new guests to visit the property. We’ve absolutely seen that there’s new guests that are visiting. It’s also been a great amenity for existing guests and gives them another alternative, another reason to come out.”
The Book has taken in about $3.5 million in sports wagers in its first 55 days of operation, according to McIntosh, who said that figure is comparable to two other sports books that share a license with Hoosier Park — the Winner’s Circle facilities in Indianapolis and New Haven, near Fort Wayne.
Although early figures from sports wagering taxes have been promising, that portion of casinos’ activity remains a relatively small portion of their revenue. The state took in about $1 million in sports gambling taxes in October, a 20% increase from the $800,000 in taxes during September. But that pales in comparison to the taxes paid by casinos for winnings from slot machines and other games. Those figures were $34 million in September and $38 million in October.
State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said the revenue figures he’s seen — both at Hoosier Park and statewide — outpace estimates provided to lawmakers while the bill was making its way through the Legislature. Several factors, he said — including weather and popular sports peaking in season throughout the calendar year — will likely play in to the continued growth of tax revenues.
“There will probably be an ebb and flow to it,” Lanane said. “The more popular sports like football are probably reflected in the early revenue figures as well.”
The municipalities hosting the state’s 14 licensed casinos figure to reap additional tax benefits as well. But in Anderson, more substantial benefits are likely to come in the form of additional jobs at the casino, said Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department. Hoosier Park officials said The Book has brought 20 new jobs to the facility, and as many as 150 more could be available with the addition of live table dealers in January.
“Probably the biggest thing we’re going to get from it is the extra jobs,” Winkler said. “That’s a very positive thing because those are going to be very good jobs.”