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Indiana’s Record December Handle and the 2020 Total Take

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Indiana’s Record December Handle and the 2020 Total Take
A man makes bets. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Indiana continues to surpass all expectations with regard to its legal sports betting industry. According to data released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission, the Hoosier State smashed yet another monthly-handle record (it’s fourth in a row) and took its yearly total to an almost unfathomable number. This is especially impressive considering the unprecedented COVID-19 related shutdown of sports leagues during the spring and the capacity-limits brought on by the stubborn and deadly coronavirus.

“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.”

Through it all, despite Indiana’s relatively small population, it will end the year inside the top-5 bet-friendly states in the US and with nothing but optimism for the platform going forward. “The market isn’t showing any signs of slowing down as we are seeing significant growth month over month,” said Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for the Gambling.com Group.

Breaking Down December

For the first time in Indiana, it’s legal sports betting handle topped the $300 million mark in December – the fifth state in the nation to achieve that mark. A total of $313.1 million in bets were taken in by Indiana sportsbooks in December – an eye-opening $62 million or 25% increase over the $251.4 million in November.

Revenues for the month were down just a bit which reflects an industry-wide trend of bettors getting the better of sportsbooks in December. The adjusted gross revenue for December 2020 was $24.3 million, just under the record-November haul of $25.3 million.

The Month’s Bets Generated $2.3m in State Taxes.

Indiana’s mobile apps contributed $269.2 million or about 86% of the $313.1 million handle, which represents a 26% spike from the $214.7 million the mobile platform was responsible for in November.

“Online sports betting has buoyed the industry all year as a number of challenges have hit the retail market, especially the pandemic,” said Jessica Welman, a PlayIndiana.com analyst. “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.”

How About Some Yearly Numbers?

With December in the books, the state of Indiana can reflect back on a year that by every measure was a huge success for the legal sports betting industry. Despite COVID’s effects on the planet, the Indiana legal sports betting scene took in $1,236,467,298 in total sports betting handle according to data released by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

December’s record-haul can be thanked in part for the state being able to reach its lofty yearly sports betting heights. December 2020’s handle was up a staggering 112.6% from December 2019’s $147.3 million, revenues spiked 161.4% from the same month last year when sportsbooks made $9.3 million and the mobile take jumped 179.8% from December 2019’s $96.2 million.

It May Be About to Get Better

If the impressive sports betting totals weren’t enough, state legislators and gambling regulators in Indiana are working on a way to bring igaming and poker to the scene. Online casinos are seen as a huge opportunity for a “more predictable revenue generator” than sports betting.

Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIndiana.com recently commented that: “The states where both are legal, online casinos games tend to dwarf sports betting in terms of both revenue and the money wagered. More is bet every month, and the win is more predictable with far fewer fluctuations from month to month. For a state like Indiana, such a dependable revenue source is unquestionably attractive.”

The current sports betting bill in Indiana doesn’t include igaming or poker – an enormous revenue generator in other states. It is being proposed that tax revenues from that platform go to veterans service organizations, like the VFW and American Legion.

Looking Forward

It will be interesting to see what happens to the Indiana sports betting scene with the football, both NFL and college winding down. In December, football contributed $101.8 million to Indiana’s total while basketball was responsible for $89.7 million, parlays generated $79.2 million and “other” generated $41.5 million toward Indiana’s overall handle.

For the year, football, unsurprisingly was responsible for the most bets overall in Indiana. In 2020, football brought in $350,297,943 of the $1.23 billion total handle, basketball $213,447,014, parlay $316,214,098 and “other” $253,468,569.

With less football on the sports betting menu, Indiana’s sports betting scene can take solace in the fact that basketball, their bread-and-butter is in full swing and will have a full slate of games throughout January and beyond.

“While football still brought in the majority of revenue, the return of the NBA in late December contributed to the record-breaking handle, taking $89 million in bets from the state,” said Max Bichsel.

Indiana has already cemented itself as one of sports betting’s jewels in the US and there is no reason to think a drop-off is imminent. Adding gaming and poker will only make the market stronger. Only Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and now Indiana has eclipsed the magical $1 billion sports betting handle for a single year, further proving Indiana’s status as a true legal betting Heavyweight.