Sports bettors wagered $170.8 million through Indiana casinos and mobile applications in January — a new record — but the growth of the Hoosier State's sports wagering market appears to be leveling off.
Indiana's sports wagering handle last month was just 5.57% greater than the $161.8 million bet on sports in December, according to data released Monday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
In comparison, Indiana saw 9.9% growth in its sports wagering handle in December versus November, 60.7% growth in November from October, and 160.4% growth in October relative to the first month of legal sports wagering in September.
Dan Nita, general manager of Hammond's Horseshoe Casino and regional president of its parent company, Caesars Entertainment, said he expects the sports wagering market to remain strong at least through the NCAA men's basketball tournament in March and April.
But he cautioned continued growth in Indiana after that depends on a lot of factors, including the anticipated availability of sports wagering in Illinois — perhaps even in time for March Madness.
Though even if Illinois regulators finally green light sports wagering, Indiana still will be the only place for Illinois residents to wager on the No. 22 University of Illinois men's basketball team, since Illinois law prohibits in-state bets on Illinois college and university teams.
In the meantime, Nita said the February numbers set to be released by the Gaming Commission in early March already look good, with legal Super Bowl and Oscars wagering available for the first time in Indiana.
"The heaviest volume day that we had was the Saturday (Feb. 1) prior to the Super Bowl," Nita said.
"Because while we had great crowds in the casino on Super Bowl Sunday, a lot of people wanted to place their bets on Saturday so they could go back to their favorite couch and watch the Chiefs and Niners play."
Overall, Ameristar Casino once again led the state in total sports wagers with $66 million bet in January through its mobile partner DraftKings, and another $7 million wagered in-person at its East Chicago gaming facility.
Michigan City's Blue Chip Casino was second with $52.2 million in total sports wagers, including $49.5 million placed through its mobile partner, FanDuel.
The Horseshoe led all Indiana gaming facilities in retail-only sports wagers. The casino, located on the state line adjacent to Chicago's southeast side, saw $13.7 million wagered on sports in January.
"We're very pleased within Horseshoe that we continue to grow our retail sports betting volume," Nita said. "We're really excited that we have almost a 60% market share of the retail sports betting within Northwest Indiana, with hopes to grow."
Altogether, 81% of the state's entire January sports wagering handle passed through those three Northwest Indiana casinos, according to Gaming Commission records.
The state's share of January's record sports wagering handle amounted to $1.2 million. Indiana assesses a 9.5% sports wagering tax on monthly casino revenue from settled wagers.
Aside from sports wagering, Indiana casinos in January did extremely well at the tables and slot machines compared to last January when bitterly cold temperatures associated with the polar vortex put the chill on casino attendance and revenue.
Gaming Commission data show January year-over-year revenue grew 19.2% at the Horseshoe, 18.6% at Blue Chip, 10.8% at Ameristar and a combined 3.6% at the two Majestic Star casinos in Gary.
"It's a great way to kick off 2020," Nita said. "We saw growth in volumes in really every category. These are our best year-over-year results in recent memory."
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