Indiana Sports Betting Bill Heads To Governor

The Hoosier State of Indiana looks like a lock to soon join the US states with legal sports betting. There’s plenty of the clueless political nonsense we’ve come to expect from gaming regulations in the United States–particularly those outside of Nevada. It’s absurd that blowhard politicians who are completely ignorant of the realities of the modern gaming industry are entrusted to create a regulatory framework for it. The good news is that Indiana won’t have the worst sports gaming regulations in the country. The bar is set so low that this has to be considered a positive.

First, the basics. Obviously, the state will bend over backwards to protect legacy gaming businesses by limiting sports betting to existing casinos, racinos and off track betting parlors. This is silly though almost de rigueur at this point. Americans are hilariously hypocritical people and particularly the bottom feeders that go into politics. They love to prattle on about ‘freedom’ and their commitment to ‘free enterprise’ and ‘marketplace competition’. Unfortunately, it’s all talk–should any type of actual freedom and/or marketplace competition appear they completely freak out. This is particularly true in US regulation of gaming.

Anyway, the good news is that mobile betting will be permitted throughout the state. Not that this is going to make anyone give up their offshore accounts but it is a sign that the Hoosier State’s gaming regulations won’t be completely backwards. The tax rate will be 9.5% of adjusted gross revenue with the obligatory state cash grab for ‘problem gambling’. An initial $100,000 fee for a ‘vendor license’ followed by $50,000 annual payments. This is presumably the amount of money they’re going to extort from technology providers since they’re going to maintain a sports betting monopoly for the status quo gambling cabal.

No betting will be permitted on amateur athletes under the age of 18–this is no big deal but a bit of moral grandstanding that finds it’s way into most sports betting regulation. And now, for something completely stupid–also in the Indiana regulations is a prohibition on esports betting. It’s admittedly something that is tough to conceptualize for anyone over the age of 40 and no doubt even harder for the type of knuckledraggers that go into politics. Esports is growing exponentially and the industry will be worth $1.65 billion by 2020. For example–74 million viewers watched the League of Legends World Championships online. That audience is bigger than for any US TV broadcast with the exception of the Super Bowl.

It’s unclear why the esports betting is in the regulation though I can all but guarantee you it’s not a good reason. My guess is that no one involved really understands it and got all uppity about ‘betting on kids playing video games’. Never mind the fact that these are contests involving professionals and that the average video game enthusiast is 35 years old. It’s un-American to expect that facts will get in the way of pointless moralizing. The by product of all of this is that as the popularity of esports and esports betting continues to grow Indiana sports betting will be less and less competitive.

Mobile betting made it back into the legislation despite the objection of Representative Ben Smaltz who made this pitiful argument:

“This is a monumental policy shift, and this is the beginning. I’m not excited about having sports wagering in my community anywhere. I’m really not excited about what happens in six years or less, when there’s new people here and somebody comes and says isn’t it silly we can bet on a football game but I can’t play blackjack or roulette on my phone?”

Actually, it *is* silly that an adult can’t spend his own money to enjoy casino games online or on his phone. Like I said before, American politicians love to make grandiose statements about ‘freedom’ but react like colicky babies when they actually encounter it.

The governor is expected to sign the sports betting legislation within the next couple of weeks. In a backwards state like Indiana where residents just won the right to buy alcohol on Sunday **last year** it’s a surprise that the sports betting legislation should pass into law with little resistance at this point.

About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on gambling theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice.