The state’s online gaming industry is not immune to COVID-19.
According to PlayIndiana, the state’s retail and online sportsbooks were hit hard in the first weeks of the coronavirus shut down, costing the state an estimated $125 million in wagers in March.
“This is an unprecedented stoppage for legal sportsbooks, and there is no playbook for them to follow to help manage the crisis,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayIndiana.com. “Obviously, the sports betting industry is just one facet in a crisis that is affecting us all, too often tragically. But it is a business that employs hundreds in Indiana and generates millions in state taxes. And the bottom line is that there will be no significant relief until the sports world begins to open back up.”
Indiana appeared to be headed for its first month of more than $200 million in bets. Instead, the state’s retail and online sportsbooks collected just $74.8 million in March wagers, down 60% from the record $187.2 million in February, according to official reporting released Thursday. Almost all of the handle was generated before March 11, when the NBA shut down its season and sent a cascade of closures through the sports world.
March’s bets produced $5.5 million in adjusted gross revenue, down 50.5% from $11.9 million in February, and yielded $522,0825 in tax revenue for the state.
The shutdown wiped out nearly three weeks of games, including the NBA and the opening of the Major League Baseball season. The loss of the NCAA Tournament, one of the largest sports betting holidays in the U.S., proved particularly damaging. Indiana sportsbooks could have generated more than $50 million in tournament-related wagers, PlayIndiana estimates.
“There is no way to replace the revenue that would have been generated from the NCAA Tournament, which in legal jurisdictions generates more action than the Super Bowl,” said Jessica Welman, an analyst for PlayIndiana.com. “The NCAA Tournament can’t be rescheduled, but professional leagues are beginning to draw plans to begin games again. We still don’t know what that looks like or when it will happen. Whether spectators are there to watch in-person or not, though, online sportsbooks should again be able to attract bettors, which will be welcome news for the industry.