Indiana sportsbooks close 2020 with $313m in December wagers

Indiana was the fifth US state to surpass $300m in bets in a month in December, ending 2020 with four consecutive record months, more than $1.75bn in bets, and passing $2bn in lifetime wagers, according to analysts from PlayIndiana.

The state’s sportsbooks took in $313.1m in December, with wagers ahead by 93.5% from $161.8m in December 2019, shattering the previous handle record of $251.4m set in November.

December’s wagers generated $24.1m in adjusted gross operator revenue, according to PlayIndiana’s own tabulations, nearly doubling the $12.1m set in December 2019. The month’s bets yielded $2.3m in state taxes.

“Nothing could have recouped the revenue losses from the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament and much of the baseball season,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com. “But a lot went right this fall for sportsbooks, and it was on full display in December.

“The Indianapolis Colts, Notre Dame and Indiana football all continued to attract significant wagering. Then a full month of college basketball, which is more important in Indiana than most anywhere else, and the start of the NBA season added a year-end boost. The strong finish made it so that 2020 represented a big leap forward despite all the challenges.”

Over the course of 2020, Indiana’s retail and online sportsbooks produced $1.8bn in bets comprising $1.5bn in online wagering and $295.1m in bets through retail sportsbooks. That generated $138.4m in gross operator revenue and $13.2m in state taxes. Since launching in October 2019, Indiana’s sportsbooks have produced $2.2bn in wagers.

“The first full year of operation for Indiana’s sports betting industry was anything but normal, but ultimately it managed to steady itself and end the year on a roll,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIndiana.com.

He added: “The state faced a pandemic that shuttered retail sportsbooks, a shutdown of major sports for four months, and a record-setting sports betting launch in neighboring Illinois that siphoned off a key market for the state. But sportsbooks were creative in their perseverance, and it paid enormous dividends as the year went on.”

Online betting generated 84% of December’s handle, or $263.1m, which was down slightly from 85% in November. Market leader DraftKings/Ameristar Casino took in $112.7m in bets, up from $95.2m. Those bets produced $5.1m in gross receipts, down from $7m in October.

Unlike online sportsbooks, the retail market has understandably been slow to rebound. Retail sportsbooks generated $50m in wagers, down slightly from $51.2m in December 2019. Hollywood Lawrenceburg, nearest Cincinnati, led the retail market with a $12m handle. Ameristar Casino was second with $9.5m, followed by Horseshoe Hammond with $7.2m.

Online sports betting has buoyed the industry all year as a number of challenges have hit the retail market, especially the pandemic,” Welman said. “Indiana’s retail market will continue to be important, especially once the pandemic ends, but online betting will remain the vehicle of choice for sports bettors.”

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