Indiana Sportsbooks Debut Sports Betting Sunday, Plan Big
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana officially launches into the legalized sports wagering world on Sunday but won’t be making a big splash immediately.
The Hoosier State becomes the 12th in the US to make sports betting legal, but of the 13 casinos in the state approved to offer it, only three are prepared to launch on Sept. 1, the first day it becomes available.
And even those three locations – Ameristar East Chicago Casino & Hotel just across the state line from Chicago; Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg near Cincinnati; and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville near Indianapolis – are each conducting soft opens.
Nonetheless, excitement abounds on the eve of legalized sports wagering in only the second Midwestern state. Indiana follows Iowa in that category. Iowa sports betting began in mid-August with long lines for the betting app at casinos.
“We are very excited at Ameristar to offer our guests another form of entertainment,” Matthew Schuffert, vice president and general manager at Ameristar East Chicago, told Bookies.com. “Sports wagering is a great addition to the property, adding excitement to our pavilion for new and existing customers.”
Schuffert said that Ameristar will offer five betting stations and 12 kiosk betting terminals.
“With our sportsbook located in such close proximity to our Stadium Sports Bar, guests have easy access to an outstanding outlet to watch games that they have placed bets on,” Schuffert said. “Being so close to our Stadium Sports Bar, guests will be able to make a bet, watch a game and have a fantastic meal.”
Ameristar and Hollywood Aim For Star Power at Openings
Ameristar and Hollywood have scheduled more elaborate “official” openings later next week. Each has arranged for some local sports heroes to participate in the grand openings in an effort to boost interest and attendance. Casino locations such as Ameristar and Hollywood are banking on drawing in customers from bordering states such as Illinois and Ohio, where sports betting has yet to be legalized.
With its proximity to Chicago, Ameristar is relying on bettors from across the state’s border making up a sizable portion of its clientele. To further entice Illinoisans, Ameristar has arranged for a pair of former Chicago Bears greats – tight end and Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Ditka and legendary kick returner Devin Hester – to take part in its grand opening on Thursday.
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That grand opening comes just hours before the Bears kick off the 2019 NFL regular season against the rival Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago.
“Mike Ditka and Devin Hester are legends in Chicago,” Schuffert said. “Having them on property on opening night of the NFL season when the Bears play the Packers is huge.”
“We’re thrilled to be one of the first casinos in Chicagoland to offer sports betting and look forward to showcasing our offerings to customers from around the region,” he added.
Hollywood has enlisted a pair of Cincinnati Hall of Famers – Tony Perez of baseball’s Reds and Anthony Munoz of football’s Bengals – for the casino’s sportsbook grand opening on Saturday, a day before the Bengals open their 2019 NFL season at Seattle.
Mad Scramble for NFL Season
With late approval for legal sports betting in Indiana – Gov. Eric Holcomb only signed the bill into law in May – casinos and off-track betting facilities in the state were left scrambling to prepare proper sportsbook facilities on site. Many are still playing catch-up.
Horseshoe Hammond in northwest Indiana announced it will open on Wednesday, and will also use another former Chicago Bears player, running back Matt Forte, in its ribbon cutting ceremony. French Lick Casino in southwest Indiana is slated to open on Friday. Other facilities around the state are expected to follow suit soon.
Currently, only onsite betting is permitted until mobile wagering sites can be vetted and approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission. Even then, geofence technology will limit mobile wagering to those inside the state’s borders.