Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in Indiana that will attempt to legalize online poker in the state.
Senator Jon Ford introduced SB 417, which would legalize all forms of online casino gambling in Indiana. Under the legislation in the bill the 14 casinos and racinos in Indiana would be able to set up an online platform that offers the same casino gaming that they offer in their brick and mortar establishment. The casinos and racinos would be able to partner with up to three online gambling and online poker providers.
Ford did not include online poker in the bill’s initial draft, believing it might hurt its chances. But after discussions with fellow lawmakers and industry representatives, he decided to add online poker before introducing the 2021 version to the Senate.
“They didn’t think it would be as big an issue as I thought it would be,” Ford told Play Indiana, though he added that he could remove online poker later if circumstances changed.
All of this comes right as the Indiana gambling market is witnessing record highs in sports betting. In December, the state smashed the $251 million sports betting handle record set just a month earlier with $313 million wagered on sporting events.
“With the success we’ve had with sports wagering, I think there’s some appetite to have the discussion about online gaming,” Ford said. “I think this session, we’ll have a lot of good discussion about it.
“Having online sports wagering will show my colleagues that we can implement a safe and friendly environment for online gaming. And I think sports wagering and the successful rollout of that really shows them what we can do here in Indiana.”
The high numbers, and the taxes that come along with them, may make passing online gambling legislation smoother. The state tax rate of 9.5% on sports betting in Indiana translated into just over $13 million in state tax revenue. And Ford’s bill would introduce a tax rate of 18% on online gambling, nearly twice that of sports betting.