By Brandon Barger TheStatehouseFile.com INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana’s bet on sports wagering is paying off, at least for state revenues. The state took in more than $1 million in new revenue in October, the first full-month of legalized sports wagering in Indiana, according to the October gaming revenue report by the Indiana Gaming Commission. During October, the report states, Hoosiers bet $90,438,994.88 on sporting events. More than $41 million of those bets were on football, with the NFL and NCAA football seasons well underway. Another $10 million was wagered on baseball during the Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series. Sports wagering was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb in May, with the first legal bets allowed to be placed at casinos in September and online sports betting rolled out on Oct. 3. In September, there was about $34.5 million in bets placed by Hoosiers. Matt Bell, president and CEO of the Casino Association of Indiana, said online sports betting, which allows someone to place a bet even from their smartphone, caused that figure to more than double in October. “With the onset of October, we saw the onset of mobile wagering as well. So, I think we saw a traumatic increase in overall handle (wagers) and also in taxable AGR (adjusted gross revenue),” Bell said. “We think it is a great beginning,” he said. “It demonstrates clearly that there is a lot enthusiasm for a legal, regulated and transparent opportunity to place wagers on the part of the Hoosier consumer.” The bets translated to $1,096,160 in revenue for the state through taxes. The current tax rate for the state is around 9.5%, a rate that makes Indiana “competitive” with other states, said Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper. “The tax rates that were put into the bill when the bill was in the House were competitive with tax structures across the country,” Messmer said. Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, also said this tax rate is just right for the state to continue its goal of stopping illegal betting in the state. “I believe that if we are going to bring the illegal market into a regulated market, we need to keep the hurdles low and one of the hurdles is taxation,” Ford said. “So I think keeping the taxation low will allow us to bring more of that illegal sports wagering into the regulated marketplace.” Rep. Gregory Porter, D-Indianapolis, said the current returns are exceeding expectations, calling it “a nice little push in revenue for the state of Indiana.” However, Porter wants the state to focus now on how that revenue is used. “What are we doing with those dollars?” Porter asked. “Are we going to put it into a general fund to continue to look at $2.2 billion dollar surplus, or what will we really do with those dollars that we generate from gaming?” Brandon Barger is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalists.
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