In this series, we will look at six states considered the most likely to offer regulated, legal online poker within the next year. For the fourth installment, we focus on real money online poker in Indiana — a conservative state that has had legal sports betting since 2019 and is regularly identified by analysts as one of the states expected to expand into iGaming.
Real money US online poker is legal and operational in five states — Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. There are many reasons to be optimistic that the Hoosier State could become the sixth.
For starters, lawmakers in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly have tried for the past two years to pass legislation to expand iGaming. Supporters of expansion have vowed to try again in 2023.
Perhaps even more consequential was the release of a report in September that showed online poker and casino gaming wouldn’t cannibalize revenue for the state’s 13 land-based casinos. A separate report on the impact of online sports betting, released one year before it was legalized, helped allay similar cannibalization fears among state lawmakers and led to the legalization of the vertical.
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Indiana Seen As Likely to Expand iGaming
The fast embrace of digital sports betting by both operators and states will facilitate the expansion of iGaming, as sports betting and iGaming are simply different products being offered on the same apps/websites and overseen (in most cases) by the same regulatory authority. Analysts and researchers have had Indiana on a short list of states considered most likely to expand further into iGaming.
Two months ago, a report commissioned by Indiana regulators and conducted by Spectrum Gaming Group found that online poker and casino gaming would generate about $469 million in revenue in the first year of expanded online gambling and that the windfall would rise to $830 million by year three.
If accurate, that would put Indiana smack in the middle of the other six US iGaming states (excluding Nevada, which has limited online poker and no online casino gaming). In terms of gross gaming revenue, the Hoosier State would be much bigger than Connecticut, Delaware, and West Virginia and smaller than Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Spectrum added that Indiana is, for all intents and purposes, ready to go with expanded online gambling because the state already has land-based casinos and a robust regulatory infrastructure.
“The fast embrace of digital sports betting by both operators and states will facilitate the expansion of iGaming, as sports betting and iGaming are simply different products being offered on the same apps/websites and overseen (in most cases) by the same regulatory authority,” Spectrum said.
The firm added, “based on the evidence from the states where igaming has been introduced, there is little if any, cannibalization of revenue from established casinos.”
Last June, analysts with Morgan Stanley released a separate report on expanding online poker and casino gaming in Indiana. That report projected that if Indiana legalized online casino gaming in 2024, the state would generate $653 million in igaming revenue in 2025.
Previous Expansion Attempts Fell Short
Lawmakers in the Indiana General Assembly tried to expand online gambling in 2021 and 2022. Their previous efforts all failed.
In January 2021, Sens. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), Chris Garten (R-Charlestown), and Ronald Grooms (R-Jeffersonville) introduced legislation to offer online poker and casino gaming. Their proposal, Senate Bill 417, was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure immediately after it was introduced but died in committee.
This year, Reps. Doug Gutwein (R-Francesville) and Ethan Manning (R-Logansport) introduced House Bill 1356 in January. Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Brazil) submitted a separate bill, House Bill 1337, for good measure. Both bills were sent to the House Committee on Public Policy but did not advance further.
There are already many lawmakers who support it, and I believe this new study will be a useful tool to help educate others, so they too will understand the benefit iGaming regulation has for consumers, casinos, and the state. In an exclusive last month, iDEA Growth State Advocacy Director John Pappas told US Gaming Review that the Spectrum report would be a “useful tool” in convincing skeptical lawmakers that they should back expanding the state’s gaming laws to allow for online poker and casino.
“There are already many lawmakers who support it, and I believe this new study will be a useful tool to help educate others, so they too will understand the benefit iGaming regulation has for consumers, casinos, and the state,” Pappas said.
Some iGaming expansion backers won re-election this month.
Ford, Garten, Manning, and Morrison each won another term — Ford and Manning ran unopposed. Gutwein decided not to run for re-election and has retired, while Grooms resigned in November 2021.
Indiana lawmakers need to ensure that legislation allowing for shared liquidity is also enacted. That would be a precondition for the state to join a multi-jurisdictional gaming compact like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which allows for interstate online poker and currently includes Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.
Major Poker Operators Already Have Access
There’s not much mystery about which operators could launch online poker in Indiana. Three of the biggest online poker operators in the US — BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP — already have access in the state, both directly and indirectly, through mobile sports betting licenses and are likely to get involved in the online poker and casino verticals, too.
Each operator would be eager to connect to player pools in other states via MSIGA. BetMGM and PokerStars run online poker rooms in Michigan and New Jersey, while WSOP has rooms in all four of the compact’s states — their bond forms the WSOP/888 US Network.
BetMGM runs an online sportsbook at Belterra Casino Resort, a riverboat casino in Florence. If online poker and casino gaming were legalized, the operator would also likely offer them via the Belterra license.
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For PokerStars, access would likely be through one of two riverboats that have a partnership with FanDuel. PokerStars and FanDuel are both owned by Flutter Entertainment. FanDuel operates retail sportsbooks at Belterra and Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa, a riverboat in Michigan City. FanDuel also runs an online book through Blue Chip.
WSOP would have the most opportunities for access by far. That’s because WSOP is owned and operated by Caesars, which owns and operates land-based properties all over the state.
Caesars operates retail sportsbooks at Horseshoe Hammond, a riverboat casino, and Caesars Southern Indiana, a land-based property in Elizabeth. It also runs a retail sportsbook at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, a racino in Anderson. Caesars operates a mobile sportsbook through Horseshoe and Harrah’s.
Potential Indiana Online Poker Operators
|Operator||Likely to Launch Poker?||Land-Based Casino Partner|
|BetMGM||Yes||Belterra Casino Resort|
|PokerStars||Yes||Belterra Casino Resort or Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa|
|WSOP||Yes||Caesars Southern Indiana, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, or Horseshoe Hammond|
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