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Indiana Reports Surprising Surge in May Sports Betting

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Indiana Reports Surprising Surge in May Sports Betting
Indianapolis, IN, USA. Photo by Corbin Mathias

The state of Indiana has become one of the most reliable legal sports betting markets in the country since its launch. The latest example of that fact comes in the form of a slight handle bump for the state’s sportsbooks during May, when the broader US industry was expected to continue its annual seasonal sports betting slide.

The Hoosier State released its May betting figures on Friday and they revealed a mixed bag for the state’s legal sports wagering scene. There was a decent uptick in the overall handle according to PlayIndiana, but a slight dip in overall profits for sportsbooks operating in the Indiana market.

What it all means is anyone’s guess but any increase during this time of expected downturns has to be viewed as a nice surprise and a reason for optimism for the broader US scene as we heady into a typically lean summer betting season.

“Even with the expected slowdown over the last two months, no Midwestern state has held its ground better than Indiana,” said Nicole Russo, analyst for PlayIndiana.com.

Figure This Out

As mentioned, the Indiana legal sports betting industry was expecting yet another down-month but actually experienced a slight uptick in activity during May. The state’s sportsbooks brought in $254.4 million in wagers in May from its retail and mobile platforms – a 7.6% increase from the $236.4 million brought in during April. It’s still a far cry from the record $348.2 million taken in during January.

It isn’t all great news however. Along with an increase in overall handle came a slight decrease in the revenues for the state’s sportsbooks. PlayIndiana reported $18.9 million in adjusted gross revenues for Indiana’s sports betting providers which is 6.1% less than the $20.1 million in profits reported in April.

It turns out that bettors in Indiana were pretty successful in May and the payouts by sportsbooks were high during the 31-day period.

“The Hoosier state had an impressive May with increased handle where many states saw a decline. This is a testament to the strength of Indiana’s market, which continues to thrive,” said Bill Ordine, sports betting analyst, Gambling.com Group. “A dip in revenue contributed to a slight dip in tax contributions.”

About Those Taxes

Tax contributions to the state always follow the revenues’ good or bad reports. In this case, May revenues in Indiana fell and so too did the tax contributions to state and local coffers. A total of $1.79 million in taxes was siphoned from sportsbook profits in May – a 6.1% drop from April’s $1.91.

Indiana mobile apps continued to be the overwhelming story of the success seen in the market. Internet-based betting was responsible for $234 million of May’s $254.4 million overall handle, nearly 92%. That’s a 9% increase from the $214.58 million in mobile wagers reported in April.

Keeping Indiana Afloat

Indiana keeps living up to its reputation as a basketball-crazed state. Even though the Indiana Pacers experienced the shortest run possible during the NBA playoffs, basketball was still the most bet-on sport during May, contributing $82.4 million to the state’s overall handle. The Indianapolis 500 running during May also helped the state’s bottom line.

Hopes are that the extended NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs stretching later into the summer than usual, the Olympics and even Euro 2020 will help the state’s sportsbooks maintain their level of wagering increases throughout the summer.

There has also been mention of the creativity displayed by the states’ sportsbooks as they try to maintain and even acquire new customers throughout the summer months.

“In open and competitive betting markets such as Indiana, sportsbooks have significant incentive to find alternative events to fuel bettor interest even while the sports calendar is slower,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com. “Whether that means heavy promotion of a Pacers play-in game or future innovations built around the upcoming Olympics, operators will do what they can to hold their market position. And ultimately, that’s good for the entire market.”

Summer May Not Be That Bad

Indiana is an established market that is home to all of the biggest names in the legal sports gambling provider space. Those providers aren’t likely to sit idly by while their industry experiences a downturn.

The return of tourism and ultimately a robust retail legal sports betting sector is imminent, and the fact remains that Indiana is still one of the only states in their region that boasts a legal sports betting platform.

“The retail market is beginning to show new life as pandemic concerns wane,” Nicole Russo said. “Out-of-state bettors remain the lifeblood of the retail market. So long as Ohio and Kentucky resist legalizing sports betting, and pandemic-related restrictions don’t return, retail sportsbooks should continue to return to health.”

It all adds up to the possibility of a better-than-expected summer for the Indiana scene. While a significant uptick isn’t expected until the NFL season fires up again in September, May’s figures struck an optimistic tone for the Indiana scene as the dog days of summer approach.