One year after supporters launched a pair of failed efforts to expand iGaming in Indiana, a key lawmaker in the state House of Representatives is back with a new bill that would authorize online poker and casino gaming by September 1, 2023.
Analysts have long considered Indiana to be among the most likely to be the next state to expand from just offering online sports betting. Considering Indiana sportsbooks’ success since launching in September 2019, it seems quite possible that the Hoosier State could become the eighth state with legally regulated online poker (two have no operators currently) and the seventh with online casino gaming.
Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Logansport) filed a bill, HB 1536, before a January 12 deadline to do so. It was subsequently read for the first time and referred to the House Committee on Public Policy, which currently has no meetings scheduled.
Here’s everything you need to know about the bill and what happens from here.
- Up to $100 in free play with first deposit
- Top-quality software
- Compete for WSOP bracelets & rings
Online Casinos and Poker Rooms Would Be Taxed at 20%
Under Manning’s bill, all 13 of the state’s land-based casinos, including riverboats and racinos, would be allowed three online skins for iGaming. The bill calls for the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) to begin accepting applications for online casino licenses starting July 1, with the market launching two months later, on September 1.
Online casino gaming and poker would be taxed at a rate of 20%, and operators would pay an initial licensing fee of $500,000 — with annual renewals costing $50,000. But HB 1536 would also allow operators to deduct up to $10 million annually from their taxable revenue for wagers using promotional credits.
Last September, a report conducted by Spectrum Gaming Group and commissioned by the IGC estimated that the state would generate $55 million in tax revenue during the first year of online casino gaming if taxed at 20%. The estimate increases to $121 million in year two and $164 million in year three, for a three-year estimate of $341 million in total.
The bill articulates that the IGC would have the same regulatory powers over online casino gaming as riverboat casinos and racetracks. HB 1536 also calls for the commission to develop emergency rules within 60 days.
Bill Would Allow Indiana to Join Multi-State Compact
Multi-state poker could be coming to Indiana as well.
HB 1536 states that the IGC “may enter into an interactive gaming reciprocal agreement with a regulatory agency of one or more other states or jurisdictions in which interactive gaming is authorized to allow an interactive gaming operator to accept wagers from persons not physically present in Indiana.”
The bill would also allow players “physically present in Indiana to place wagers with parties to the interactive gaming reciprocal agreement if the reciprocal agreement is not inconsistent with federal law and is approved by the governor.”
That verbiage strongly suggests that Indiana could join MSIGA, a multi-state poker compact that includes Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.
Spectrum projected that Indiana would be a smaller iGaming state than Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. But it would also be about twice the size of Connecticut and dwarf Delaware and West Virginia.
But Indiana’s smaller population ranks 17th, with about 6.8 million residents, meaning online poker in Indiana will need membership in MSIGA to thrive.
By comparison, the population of Michigan is 10 million, and New Jersey is 9.3 million. Pennsylvania, which has legal online poker but is not a member of MSIGA, has 13 million residents.
All US Online Poker Operators Have Access
The top three US online poker operators — BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP — already have market access in Indiana.
BetMGM runs an online sportsbook at Belterra Casino Resort. The operator would also offer online poker and casino through the Belterra license.
WSOP has several options available since it is owned by Caesars, which owns and operates land-based properties all over the state. Caesars operates retail sportsbooks at Horseshoe Hammond and Caesars Southern Indiana and a retail sportsbook at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. Caesars also operates a mobile sportsbook through Horseshoe and Harrah’s.
PokerStars would probably need access through FanDuel. Flutter Entertainment owns both brands, but FanDuel operates retail sportsbooks at Belterra and Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa. FanDuel also runs an online sportsbook through Blue Chip.
Time Running Out
Manning has about five weeks to get his bill passed in the Indiana House of Representatives.
House rules set a deadline of February 27 for all legislation originating in the House to have been read three times, a prerequisite before introducing bills in the Senate. Conversely, a Senate rule has set February 28 as the deadline for bills originating in the Senate to move on to the House.
The Indiana General Assembly adjourns sine die on April 29. Previous efforts to expand iGaming in Indiana fell short in 2021 and 2022.