Could we see PokerStars, BetMGM or WSOP online poker sites in Indiana next year? In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the state of gaming in Indiana. Get the latest details on legislative efforts to date, the hope for progress in 2024, and the hurdles faced.
Last updated: March 3, 2023
Previous efforts to expand into iGaming have fallen short in Indiana, but the winds of change may be blowing in favor of online poker legalization. A recent report by Spectrum Gaming Group showed that online poker and casino gaming wouldn’t negatively impact the state’s land-based casinos.
Despite its conservative reputation, the state could be on the verge of a gaming revolution. Consider that for three consecutive years, state lawmakers have given serious thought to expanding beyond online sports betting and allow online poker and casino gaming.
That means gaming is a high-profile issue for many lawmakers. It’s a subject that has managed to compete with other priorities, such as health care and transportation, for three consecutive legislative sessions.
With 13 land-based casinos in the state and the possibility of joining a multi-state gaming compact, Indiana could soon become a hub for online poker and casino gaming. Big-name operators like BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP could potentially enter the market.
Stay tuned for updates on the future of online poker in Indiana.
|Indiana Online Poker: Key Facts|
|State Population||6.8 Million|
|Has Legal Online Poker?||No|
|Bill Status||New Legislation Expected in 2024.|
|Potential Operators||BetMGM Poker, PokerStars US, WSOP US|
Although Indiana has had land-based casinos for nearly three decades, all efforts to expand into iGaming have failed since September 2019, when the state officially launched mobile sports betting.
Lawmakers introduced bills to legalize online poker and casino gaming during the 2021, 2022, and 2023 legislative sessions, but every bill submitted eventually died in committee.
Indiana is a socially conservative state, and legalizing mobile sports betting was challenging. Many conservatives believe expanding further into iGaming is a bridge too far.
But there are also reasons for optimism. Attitudes toward expanded iGaming may be changing, especially after a 2022 report by Spectrum Gaming Group found that online poker and casino wouldn’t cannibalize revenue from the state’s land-based casinos.
Online sports betting has also poured money into state coffers — the vertical brought in $328.6 million in tax revenue in FY 2022. Spectrum estimates the state would generate $55 million in tax revenue during the first year of online casino gaming if taxed at 20% — which is what lawmakers proposed the last time they tried to pass an iGaming expansion bill, in 2023.
HB 1536 was the most recent attempt to legalize online poker (and casino gaming) in the Hoosier State.
The bill would have allowed all 13 of the state’s land-based casinos, including riverboats and racinos, to have three iGaming skins.
Had the measure been enacted into law, the state regulator, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC), would have had 60 days from the time the bill became law to develop emergency rules for online poker and casino. IGC would have also had the same regulatory powers over online poker rooms and casinos as riverboat casinos and racetracks.
Operators would have paid an initial licensing fee of $500,000, with annual renewals costing $50,000. Revenue from the license fees and the yearly renewals were planned to go toward an interactive gaming fund, which would have advertised and promoted the availability of problem gambling resources and administered the IGC’s self-exclusion list. The tax rate would have been 20%.
The bill would have allowed operators to offer live dealer games, but the verbiage of HB 1536 appeared to require that they use studios physically located in Indiana.
A critical component of HB 1536 is that it would have allowed Indiana to join a multi-state gaming compact for poker. Membership in a compact is considered vital to the success of online poker, especially in a US state that ranks 17th in population (6.8 million).
Indiana would likely join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), a compact for interstate online poker that includes Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.
Membership in MSIGA would allow players in Indiana to play against those running the same platform in other states. Shared liquidity between the states would lead to more prizes and larger prize pools.
Since Indiana is a relatively small state in terms of population, it’s likely that online poker operators like BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP will hesitate to launch in the Hoosier State until it becomes clear that Indiana will join MSIGA.
Otherwise, Indiana could resemble West Virginia — an even smaller state (1.8 million residents) that currently has no online poker operators, despite it being legal since 2019.
If real money online poker is legalized in Indiana, operators would likely be required to partner with one of the state’s 13 land-based casinos, riverboats, or racinos. We expect the US’s top three online poker operators — BetMGM Poker US, PokerStars US, and WSOP US — to open online poker rooms in the state.
All three currently have market access in the state, either directly or indirectly, and have expressed a specific willingness to expand their product offerings there. If realized, Indiana’s membership in MSIGA would also provide an opportunity to grow all three brands across the US.
|Operator||Indiana Partnership||Existing Market Position|
|PokerStars||Through sibling FanDuel’s sports partnerships with Belterra Casino Resort or Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa||Already operates in MI, NJ, and PA and is the only site to connect its Michigan platform to form a multi-state network. Would be eager to be first out the gate with an Indiana online poker room|
|BetMGM Poker||Existing sports partnership with Belterra||Operates online poker in three US states and is looking to create a multi-state online poker network.|
|WSOP||Caesars owns and operates many land-based properties||Top poker brand in the US, operates in four US states, and runs a three-state online poker network|
|BetRivers||Existing partnership with French Lick Resort||Planning an online poker launch through Run it Once Poker’s acquisition|
PokerStars has been stepping up the competition with its rivals and is likely looking to be one of the first online poker operators to launch in Indiana.
As a brand owned by Flutter Entertainment, PokerStars could gain access to the state through FanDuel, another Flutter brand. FanDuel operates retail sportsbooks at Belterra and Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa. FanDuel also runs an online sportsbook through Blue Chip.
PokerStars is the world’s largest (and arguably the best-known) online poker operator, so its arrival in Indiana would be a big deal. It’s also a familiar brand in the US, having launched in New Jersey in 2016, Pennsylvania in 2019, and Michigan in 2021.
After receiving approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), PokerStars was the first operator to combine its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, doing so on January 1, 2023.
BetMGM currently runs an online sportsbook at Belterra Casino Resort and would likely also offer online poker (and casino gaming) through the Belterra license.
Although BetMGM is also a well-known online poker brand in the US — with operations in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — it is currently not engaged in multi-state poker. Instead, each state on the BetMGM Poker US Network functions as a state-specific network, where BetMGM shares liquidity with Borgata and partypoker regulated sites in the same states.
It’s unclear how long the status quo will last. BetMGM will likely seek MGCB approval to launch multi-state poker so it can combine its Michigan and New Jersey player pools.
WSOP is another big and well-known online poker brand with operations in Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It owns the iconic World Series of Poker and has been running the successful tournament for more than five decades.
There are several ways for WSOP to launch in Indiana. It’s owned by Caesars, which also 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.
The WSOP/888 US Network is currently the only tri-state network in the country, operating in three of the four member states in MSIGA. The WSOP US Network includes WSOP NJ, WSOP NV, and three racinos in Delaware running poker skins powered by 888.
WSOP is also likely to seek MGCB approval to launch multi-state poker, combine its player pool in Michigan with the other three states, and become the nation’s first four-state network.
Rush Street Interactive (RSI) acquired and onboarded the development team for Phil Galfond’s Run It Once Poker (RIO) platform in March 2022.
RSI has stated that it plans to eventually launch real money online poker in the US, but the Chicago-based company has been opaque about its plans. Considering its late entry into the market relative to BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP, it may be waiting for additional states to join MSIGA so it can make a big multi-state splash upon launch.
Taking into account that RSI has also acquired assets such as the television program Poker Night in America, it’s become obvious since the RIO acquisition that online poker is still in RSI’s plans.
It’s possible that RSI could launch online poker in Indiana under its BetRivers brand. BetRivers runs a mobile sportsbook under the land-based casino license of the French Lick Resort and is a partner for the retail sportsbook there.
Another option would be if Playtech launched its iPoker platform in the state, opening the door for a host of European-based operators — including bet365, Betsafe, and Coolbet — to offer online poker in Indiana. But Playtech would first need to be awarded a license from the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) to proceed with such a plan.
There’s also a chance that Indiana could see the SI Poker platform through a joint venture (JV) between the UK’s 888 Holdings and the parent company of Sports Illustrated (SI). The companies agreed to develop SI-themed online poker, casino, and sports betting products — and SI Casino made its debut in neighboring Michigan in February.
SI Poker would run alongside WSOP, an 888 executive told Poker Industry PRO in an exclusive interview in July 2021.
888 signed a long-term market access agreement with Caesars to launch its sportsbook, 888sport, in December 2020. However, it changed course and agreed to the JV with Authentic Brands Group the following June. The partners had agreed to launch SI Sportsbook in four states, including Indiana, but the brand has not launched there.
No, real money online poker is not currently legal in Indiana — but it could be soon!
Lawmakers who want to expand iGaming in the state beyond sports betting have failed in their attempts to get legislation passed in 2021, 2022, and 2023, but there are reasons that a fourth effort in 2024 could be successful.
Yes, Indiana launched online sports betting in September 2019. When the state approved online sports betting, it required operators to partner with one of its 13 land-based casinos, including riverboats and racinos. The casinos are allowed up to three skins for online and retail sportsbooks.
Indiana is no stranger to gaming — it’s had riverboat casinos since late 1995 and land-based casinos since 2017. The state’s gaming history is one reason analysts have Indiana on their “short list” of states to watch for an iGaming expansion.
Poker has been a legal table game at the state’s land-based casinos, riverboats, and racinos since the first casino opened in the Hoosier State in 1995. Poker is also a legal table game at Four Winds Casino South Bend, a tribal casino owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
Not until 2024 at the earliest. The last bill that lawmakers tried to pass would have launched online poker (and casino gaming) on September 1, 2023, so it’s reasonable to assume that a future bill submitted during the 2024 legislative session would look to launch both verticals around September 1, 2024.
Supporters of iGaming expansion need to focus on the House Committee on Public Policy. That’s because a total of four iGaming expansion bills — one submitted in 2021, two in 2022, and one in 2023 — were referred to the panel but never got a hearing.
The last bill directed the state regulator, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC), to begin accepting applications for online casino licenses on July 1, 2023. A future iGaming expansion bill submitted in 2024 would likely set a deadline for July 1, 2024.
Although the first land-based casino opened in Indiana in 1995, online casino gaming is still illegal. That said, there are reasons to be optimistic that online casinos will one day be legal in the Hoosier State.
For starters, 12 of the operators currently live in the state with mobile sports betting also have an online casino platform. The dozen are Bally Bet, Barstool, BetMGM, BetRivers, Betway, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, Hard Rock, PointsBet, Unibet, and WynnBET.
Land-based casinos once feared online casino gaming would impact their bottom line, but they have since evolved on the issue. Online gaming provides another source for revenue, but legalization also gives operators additional opportunities to engage with their customers.
A study conducted by Spectrum Gaming Group at the request of the IGC and released in the fall of 2022 also found that online casino gaming wouldn’t negatively impact revenue generated by the state’s land-based casinos.
Expanding iGaming in Indiana has proven to be a tall order. Attempts to expand beyond sports betting have fallen short in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Remember, Indiana is a socially conservative state. Republicans, whose party platform caters to conservatives, hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly. Considering the failed efforts in 2021, 2022, and 2023, it’s likely that GOP lawmakers see expanded iGaming as a political risk they’re not willing to take.
But also consider that Indiana was just as conservative back in September 2019 when lawmakers (many still in office) agreed to legalize online sports betting. It’s just as likely that GOP lawmakers could decide to let Hoosiers make their own personal choice regarding gambling. And then there’s the matter of leaving potentially millions in tax revenue on the table.
Bottom line: Yes, an attempt to expand iGaming failed in 2023. But look for another attempt in 2024.
No, PokerStars and the other top online poker operators in the US — BetMGM and WSOP — are not currently legal in Indiana. But, had the latest bill made it into law, BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP already had market access in the state and could have quickly launched operations in Indiana through properties they are already partnered with for online sports betting.
Offshore poker sites are not recommended because they do not offer the same consumer protection level as legal, regulated sites. Playing at offshore sites means putting your financial and personal information at risk and yourself in danger of identity theft. Federal officials have warned that US citizens have no legal recourse to collect winnings owed by an offshore site and strongly recommend against playing on them.
Information on the dangers of US citizens gambling on illegal offshore sites and how to tell if a poker site is legal is available in this guide on Poker Shield.
The House Committee on Public Policy has yet to schedule a hearing for the iGaming expansion bill, HB 1536.
As state lawmakers consider expanding iGaming, the Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis (OFMA) says Indiana could receive nearly $140 million in additional tax revenue by year three.
HB 1536 authorizes Indiana regulators to join a compact like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) to support online poker. The governor would need to sign the agreement.
A report compiled by Spectrum Gaming Group could prove to be pivotal as supporters of iGaming expansion look to win support from skeptical lawmakers.
Recent developments suggest Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, & West Virginia could soon join the five states where online poker is currently legal.