Keep The Records Coming! Indiana Sports Betting Handle Tops $1.7 Billion In 2020

Indiana closed out 2020 by racking up a $313 million sports betting handle in December.

That number set an Indiana record for the fourth-straight month.

Football led the way yet again with its $101 million haul. We may be approaching the end of the football calendar, but there’s still plenty of action left.

The College Football Playoff and NFL Playoffs generate a ton of betting interest every year, so expect football to stay on top as the most popular betting sport through the end of January.

Indiana’s December handle created over $2.3 million worth of taxes for the state. That translated to $24.3 million worth of revenue for the state’s sportsbooks.

Indiana’s December 2020 Sports Betting Handle

Here’s a quick breakdown of Indiana’s sports betting numbers for December 2020:

Licensee Online Brand(s) Total Handle Online Handle Retail Handle Gross Revenue State Tax
Ameristar East Chicago DraftKings | theScore Bet $125,036,349 $115,522,028 $9,514,321 $6,888,872 $654,427
Blue Chip FanDuel $80,063,263 $78,155,241 $1,908,022 $5,096,428 $691,145
Belterra BetMGM $45,717,450 $40,983,964 $4,733,487 $2,312,517 $219,691
Hollywood Lawrenceburg PointsBet $23,407,102 $11,396,776 $12,010,327 $3,322,399 $315,369
French Lick BetRivers $11,614,525 $10,606,542 $1,007,983 $756,505 $71,884
Horseshoe Hammond Caesars | Unibet $9,283,839 $2,038,927 $7,244,911 $1,212,209 $111,902
Tropicana Evansville William Hill $5,789,095 $4,159,818 $1,629,277 $916,927 $86,972
Harrah’s Hoosier Park $4,897,505 $0 $4,897,505 $629,976 $57,564
Indiana Grand $4,426,755 $0 $4,426,755 $680,967 $64,692
Caesars Southern Indiana $2,554,968 $0 $2,554,968 $161,869 $15,396
Rising Star BetAmerica $321,622 $209,608 $112,013 $24,936 $3,431
Total $313,112,473 $263,072,904 $50,039,569 $22,003,606 $2,292,472

Indiana sports betting’s wild 2020

With December’s numbers in hand, we finally know the complete story of Indiana’s rollercoaster year.

The state’s first full year of sports betting came in 2020, and it didn’t disappoint.

Hoosiers wagered over $1.7 billion on sports throughout the year. That turned Indiana into one of the biggest sports betting markets in the country.

Indiana’s 2020 handle could have passed the $2 billion mark if it wasn’t for the pandemic.

The Hoosier State racked up a $187 million handle in February, which was a record at the time. During the next four months combined, Indiana only managed to pull in $167 million worth of wagers.

That drop-off was less than ideal, but it was a reality for every sports betting market in the country. Without sports to bet on, the numbers were inevitably going to take a hit.

Things started to pick up again once pro sports leagues around the country got back to business in July. It’s been full steam ahead since then.

Football is always the most popular sport for gambling in the US, so the betting industry got the recovery boost it needed when the NFL and college football seasons finally began.

That boost led to four-straight record months for Indiana to close out the year. With things mostly back to normal, the state should be able to carry that momentum into 2021.

Penn National Gaming dominates retail betting

No surprise here, but Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg was home to the most popular retail sportsbook in the state in December.

The southern Indiana sports betting staple is routinely the king of the hill when it comes to retail betting in the Hoosier State.

Its $12 million worth of wagers in December was a nice step up from the $9 million second-place handle from Ameristar East Chicago.

Those numbers are great news for Penn National Gaming, which owns both of those casinos.

Penn’s Indiana duo nearly racked up a combined $120 million retail handle throughout 2020. Caesars Entertainment is the only other company competing at that level, although its reach in Indiana changed drastically throughout the year.

Caesars started off 2020 with Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Indiana Grand and Caesars Southern Indiana under its wing.

The company added Tropicana Evansville and Horsehoe Hammond to its portfolio during its merger with Eldorado Resorts over the summer.

As part of that merger, the gaming commission forced Caesars to sell three of those properties.

Twin River Holdings now owns Tropicana, with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians taking the wheel over at Caesars Southern. Horseshoe Hammond will also be changing hands in the near future.

So even though Caesars would technically be in the running for Indiana’s retail betting title, its per-location handles are nowhere near as impressive. Penn consistently does more with less.

Take December as an example.

Penn’s Indiana casino duo racked up a $21 million handle throughout the month. Between five retail casinos and three Winner’s Circle locations, Caesars only managed to haul in a combined $20 million in wagers.

Penn’s sports betting dominance is on pace to continue into 2021, especially since both of its retail sportsbooks recently adopted Barstool’s branding.

BetMGM becomes key Indiana sportsbook

While Penn took over the retail side of things in 2020, BetMGM became the biggest story of Indiana’s online sportsbook market.

Although DraftKings and FanDuel are still by far the biggest players in the state, BetMGM managed to elbow its way past the rest of the competition. It’s safe to say that the company has firmly secured the third and final spot on the online sportsbook podium in Indiana.

BetMGM opened for business in the Hoosier State on Feb. 25. It spent the next few months trading places with PointsBet and BetRivers in the rankings, as each company fought for the attention of the state’s gamblers.

Over the last few months, BetMGM has consistently drawn in bigger handles than both PointsBet and BetRivers combined.

In December alone, BetMGM racked up a $41 million handle. Fourth and fifth place in the sportsbook rankings only combined for $22 million.

So even though it still has plenty of ground to cover before it reaches the level of Indiana’s top dogs, BetMGM has successfully captured the interest of Hoosiers in a way the bottom seven sportsbooks have only hoped to achieve.

Now that it’s firmly the state’s third-most popular sportsbook, BetMGM’s popularity will continue to grow throughout 2021.

Expanding Indiana gambling in 2021

Sports betting stole the show in 2020, but 2021 will be all about the expansion of online gambling in Indiana.

If things go well during the current legislative session, Indiana gamblers could have more options than ever.

A new bill from Sen. Jon Ford could legalize online casinos in Indiana. That would allow Hoosiers to play games like online poker and blackjack from the comfort of their homes.

There’s also a new push to allow video gaming terminals (VGTs) inside of bars and restaurants throughout the state.

In other words, Indiana lawmakers have some important new gambling options to consider.

It’s easy to get excited about the possibilities, but it’s likely that one of those new gambling options will have to wait.

Gambling expansion is always an uphill battle in a conservative state like Indiana. Lawmakers are slow to wrap their heads around new betting industries, so it might not be possible to pass both during this legislative session.

Indiana’s $1.7 billion 2020 sports betting handle can serve as a case study in the success of gambling expansion in the state.

So even though Hoosiers might end up waiting for all the shiny new options, the progress at least shows that Indiana is looking towards the future in 2021.

Photo by Dreamstime
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for Play Indiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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