Indiana sports betting won the race and is up and running prior to the start of the NFL regular season. To drive the point home, Gov. Eric Holcomb on Sunday placed the first bet in the state — a $10 bet on the Indianapolis Colts to win Super Bowl LIV. He also put $10 on the Pacers to win the NBA championship.
“Sports betting is now legal in Indiana and I was excited to be the first Hoosier to place a bet,” Holcomb tweeted.
Holcomb told people at the Indiana Grand Casino in Shelbyville that if any of his bets came through, he would donate the winnings to the Indiana Canine Assistant Network, a non-profit group the provides assistance to disabled children and adults by partnering them with a service dog, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Unfortunately, the Fever lost, but betting fever lives in Indiana. Ten casinos and three off-track betting sites have been licensed for retail wagering by the state gaming commission. Mobile betting, a more complicated venture to launch, will come later.
At Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, a group of bettors stepped up to the counter to place the first legal bets at a Northwest Indiana casino.
Todd Sanders showed his loyalty to the Chicago Bears by picking them to win their conference championship and another $50 to win the Super Bowl, according to nwi.com.
Two wins could earn him $1,350.
“That will be a great day,” he told the newspaper. "I think it's great for the state. I think it's great for our community. I think it's going to increase sales here at Ameristar. I think it's going to be a good thing. I'll probably be here for every Bears game."
It’s a sure bet he will find camaraderie with other bettors during the coming season.
About 50 people were on hand for Ameristar’s “soft opening” Sunday with a full-blown grand opening planned for Sept. 5 – the actual kick-off of the NFL’s 100th season. Former Bears coach Mike Ditka and former player Devin Hester, who holds the record for kickoff return touchdowns will be in attendance to help keep the betting ball rolling – not that it will need much of an assist.
Ameristar General Manager Matt Schuffert, of Hobart, said what he was witnessing left him "extremely excited."
"This is a new form of gaming and we're very fortunate to be one of the first ones in Chicagoland to be able to offer this," Schuffert told nwi.com. "The crowd that we're seeing is exciting, and we're looking forward to seeing what sports wagering brings to the property."
Throughout the week, similar opening events will be held at casinos ready with licensed sportsbooks.
The Horseshoe Casino in Hammond is set to open its sportsbook at 11 a.m. Wednesday and the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City plans to open its book’s doors at 10 a.m. Thursday in Michigan City.
As of now, the Majestic Star casinos in Gary will not open a retail sportsbook, according to nwi.com.
Indiana was the 13th state in the U.S. to legalize betting after a U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 1972 law in May that opened the door to betting outside Nevada.
Gov. Holcomb offered sage advice on the first day of Indiana sports betting: "As in all things in life, moderation is key," Holcomb told nwi.com. "Never bet more than you can afford to lose."