Last year, Senator Jon Ford of Indiana, decided to create an online gambling bill. In the beginning, the bill covered online casinos and was void of poker. The lawmaker thought that including poker would cause the bill to fail. However, after a little discussion period with other lawmakers, Ford felt like he should add poker to the bill. With S 417 introduced this year, it includes online poker gaming with details on how the industry should be set up and taxed.
Details of the Measure
With S 417, the bill points out the need for online poker and casino gaming. The casinos and racinos in Indiana have struggled for quite some time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With venues shut down, revenues were either non-existent or much lower than before.
The new bill would authorize each of the gambling facilities in the state, racinos, and casinos, with the ability to offer online casino and poker gaming. Each property that has a license could offer up to three skins. This element alone would allow the new industry to be very large in size.
Operators would need to pay $100,000 for the first license fee. Annual renewal will cost $25,000 per operator. Online gaming revenues will be taxed at 18%. A 3% portion of that amount will go towards local municipalities. An additional 3.3% will be placed in a fund to pay for gambling addiction service needs.
The measure places the state Gaming Commission in charge of oversight. The Commission recently revealed land-based financial details, showing that 2020 saw a decline of more than 72% in year-over-year earnings.
It has been estimated that as much as $65 million to $80 million would be generated in annual tax revenues. The bill has through April 29 to pass into law. It is expected to be reviewed, but it is unclear as to if the measure has enough support to pass into law.
Riding on the Success of Sports Betting
Perhaps the legislation can ride on the coattails of the sports betting industry. In May 2019, sports betting was legalized in Indiana and the first bets took place in September 2019. So far, the industry is a little over a year old and has done quite well.
During the last quarter of 2020, the state actually set new records for sports betting services. For the year, bettors placed over $1.7 billion wagers. This provided more than $13 million to the state by way of tax revenues.
Most sports bets, around 78%, were placed online. This shows the popularity of the online space among players. The convenience factor of online betting is a major reason why the option is so successful. It is a factor that lawmakers will be pushing to try and get everyone on board to pass the legislation.
This could be the year that online gambling comes to fruition in Indiana, especially considering how hard hit the state was by the coronavirus. Many states are looking to online gambling as a new source of revenue to make up for what was lost over the past year due to the onset of the dangerous virus.