If you want to play real money online casino games in the state of Indiana, you don’t need to travel to Michigan, where the practice is legal, to place your bets.
Hundreds of cyber casinos operated by offshore gambling sites allow anyone with a virtual private network to win or lose money without much fear of lawsuits.
“We have to be honest with ourselves: people do it here in Indiana,” said Sen. Jon Ford, a Republican from Terre Haute who drafted a bill earlier this year that would have allowed casinos and Indiana racetracks offer online casino games. . “We theoretically already have iGaming. It’s about putting it in a regulated environment similar to what we’ve done with sports betting.
Ford is among a growing number of elected officials, lobbyists and casino operators pushing Indiana and other states to allow land-based casinos to host interactive online gambling, often referred to as iGaming. The idea is to lure customers away from the black market and potentially bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the state government each year.
To bolster their case in Indiana, casino lobbyists point to a new study that concludes a legal online gambling market in the state would not negatively impact revenues at the 12 Indiana casinos. Indiana state-sanctioned. This is significant, considering that last year Indiana casinos generated $691 million in gambling taxes.
And online gambling could add to the total.
In February, the Indiana Gaming Commission hired Pennsylvania-based Spectrum Gaming Group LLC to study Internet casino gaming. The consulting firm found that Indiana could bring in between $392 million and $883 million in tax revenue over a three-year period, depending on the tax rate applied by the state to online betting.
“The report’s findings reflect what we as an industry have been telling policy makers for several years,” said Matt Bell, president and CEO of the Casino Association of Indiana. Online casino gambling “is a viable market for Indiana and can be a profitable business for casino gambling properties in Indiana, and it can do so without cannibalizing the business of physical casinos.”
Six states (Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) offer the full gamut of online gambling, from virtual slot machines to online card games. Nevada also allows online gambling but limits it to online poker.
Adopt the sports betting model
Recent history suggests that Indiana is close to joining the small list of states to legalize online gambling.
In 2019, Indiana joined Montana in becoming the second state to legalize sports betting after the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had effectively banned sports betting in all the countries.
In the three years and four months since sports betting was legalized, the Hoosiers have placed more than $4 billion in bets and the state has earned more than $62 million in sports betting tax revenue, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Although states differ in their approach to online gambling regulation, there are three basic models: the open model, which allows any company to offer online gambling; the closed model, which limits licensing to state casinos; and the hybrid model, which requires third-party companies to offer digital games of chance through licensing agreements – also known as “skins” – with existing casinos.
Indiana’s sportsbook framework allowed existing land-based casinos to partner with third-party sportsbooks, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, to ensure that existing casinos in the state would not be affected by the introduction of sports betting.
Casino operators say they would benefit from applying a similar model to legal online casino games.
“Because of all the money we as an industry have put into brick and mortar…we hope the expansion of online gaming will work through us as it has done with sports betting. “said Alex Stolyar, director of development for Full House Resorts, which owns Rising Star Casino in southeast Indiana.
Previous efforts to legalize online casino gambling in Indiana have failed.
Earlier this year, the Hoosier Lottery announced plans to offer gaming over the internet, a move that angered retail lottery ticket sellers. This prompted lawmakers to step in and pass legislation requiring legislative approval before the State Lottery Commission can begin online gambling or ticket sales.
Ford, one of several Indiana lawmakers to introduce online casino bills earlier this year, declined to say whether he plans to address the issue next year, although he expects let the recent study by the Indiana Gaming Commission serve as an impetus for the topic to be addressed. Again.
The majority of people playing online casino games are between the ages of 21 and 39, according to the state report, a demographic the casino industry has struggled to attract.
“It’s bringing a new, younger demographic to the market that every industry is struggling to connect with,” Ford said of online casino games. “I think it’s very clear that younger generations want to do things on their cellphones or through a digital process.”
It would also add another stream of income to a growing prize pool.
Indiana’s $691 million in taxes collected from its 12 casinos last fiscal year rose nearly 19% from about $583 million in fiscal 2021, according to an annual report by the Indiana Gaming Commission published in September.
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Rod Bray told IBJ that while conversations about Internet casino gambling continue, it’s too early to tell if the concept might win General Assembly approval.
Funding recommended for addiction treatment
If Indiana moves forward with allowing online casino gambling, it should dedicate some of its new revenue stream to gambling and addiction treatment services, said Christina Gray, executive director of the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling.
Her organization acts as a resource and advocate for people struggling with gambling addiction and their family members, although she stresses that she takes no position on legalizing gambling.
“Ninety-five percent of people can do it responsibly,” says Gray. “We are here to defend the 4-5% who may have a problem.”
Gray thinks legalizing online casino gambling could open the door for more young people to become addicted.
“You’re legalizing it for somebody out there who can’t go to a brick-and-mortar store,” Gray said. “I think it’s possible that more people will have problems.”
When it comes to funding gambling addiction services, the latest online casino bills mimic the same language as sports betting legislation, which allocates just over 3% of its revenue to such programs.
If online casino gambling becomes legal, Gray hopes lawmakers will consider allocating more funding to help people with gambling problems.•