As with any business, a launch should be timed when it will attract the most customers. Given the popularity of the NFL and the history of wagers on football games, it would make sense to introduce sports gambling in conjunction with a football season. Lawmakers in Indiana recognize this potential and are trying to scramble in order to have the state’s newly approved sports gambling industry up and running by September 1, just ahead of the start of the NFL’s upcoming season.
The regular season for the NFL will get underway on September 5 and Indiana’s sports gambling activities aren’t expected to be ready until at least mid-month, or possibly later. Draft regulations for sportsbooks have already been produced and are now going through a public comment period that runs through August 1. After that, the regulations and all public comments will have to be reviewed before the final version of the regulatory framework is put into place.
This would give regulators one month to ensure that Indiana is ready for sports gambling if it is to meet the new deadline. The September 1 date, by law, is the very first date the activity could be allowed and one month should be sufficient to ensure all parts of the industry are in place. The law reads, in part, “A person holding a certificate of authority issued under this chapter is authorized to conduct sports wagering under this article beginning September 1, 2019.” However, the draft regulations make no mention of a potential September 1 launch date.
Indiana approved sports gambling in May, authorizing retail locations such as casinos and racetracks, as well as off-site betting facilities, to open sportsbooks. Mobile wagers are still on the back burner, but could eventually be offered, as well. One of the biggest sticking points now is whether or not to allow gambling at locations where the sports events are held. The Indiana Gaming Commission is considering a ban on on-site wagers, which would be facilitated through the use of geolocation-restricting technology.
One concern regarding the on-site ban is that it may keep fans out of the stands. Not being able to place wagers at an event, they may opt to stay at home or watch from an off-site facility that allows sports gambling.
In addition to approving the regulations, sportsbooks will have to be completely tested before live wagers are allowed. This is certainly going to put a little pressure on regulators to try and meet the new deadline, but it is still within the realm of possibility.