Indiana Stamp

Indiana Legislator Introduces Sports Betting, DFS Bills

An Indiana state legislator with a degree in sports management and an eye to the future has introduced twin measures that would formally authorize live sports betting and the offering of daily fantasy sports (DFS) by licensed racinos and pari-mutuel facilities in the state.

Indiana State Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute) would like to see his state in a leadership position if sports-betting activities in particular receive increased interest nationwide.  Morrison has introduced House Bills 1073 and 1074 to address the possibility of Indiana’s official involvement in the two activities.

indiana-stampMorrison’s HB 1073 is the sports betting measure, which according to its descriptor, “Authorizes a permit holder, a licensed riverboat owner, or an operating agent to conduct sports wagering in sports books located on the premises of the satellite facility, racino, or riverboat operated by the permit holder, licensed riverboat owner, or operating agent. Provides that the implementation of sports wagering is subject to the gaming commission’s determination that sports wagering is permissible under federal law.”

Such permits as described in the above would, of course, be issued by the state, with taxation revenue realized for the state’s coffers in return.  The activity would be allowed only at a “sports book cated on the premises of the satellite facility, riverboat, or casino operated by the licensee” and would have an age-21 minimum for the placing of bets.

American-based sports bettors might already be aware of the big “if” that looms to block the measure — the federal-level Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that has blocked most American states’ efforts to introduce legalized sports betting for nearly a quarter century, and has effectively stymied New Jersey’s voter-approved laws along the same lines.

Morrison’s proposal doesn’t attempt to override PASPA, but is instead written so that it would go into effect only if the federal PASPA law is overturned, rewritten or thrown out via court challenge.  No such federal movement to rewrite or replace PASPA currently exists, but Morrison cited recent comments made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver that legalized, nationwide sports betting in the US is inevitable.

Despite Morrison’s hopes to get ahead of the curve if PASPA departs the scene, Indiana might still not be an easy state for such legislation.  The state’s largest city and capital, Indianapolis, is also home to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), one of the staunchest opponents of pro-gambling legislation in the US today.

Morrison himself admits that his sports-betting bill is a longshot at the present time, though he has higher hopes for his second measure.  HB 1074 would authorize the state’s two licensed racinos to offer daily fantasy sports under state supervision.  The two facilities, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson and Indiana Grand Casino in Shelbyville, are searching for ways to supplement their current revenue streams, following the slow growth of casinos and other gambling opportunities both elsewhere in the state and in neighboring states.

The same racinos are also seeking permission to provide live dealers for the simulated card games they offer, which would bring the racinos more in line with the state’s other casino offerings.  Blackjack and poker, dealt live, are available at several other facilities in the state.

Daily fantasy sports, unlike traditional sports betting, is a form of wagering activity that is deemed legal on the national level and is not under the thread of an existing law such as PASPA.  (The Sheldon Adelson-sponsored RAWA act, however, looms as a possible threat to the activity.)  As such, passing a pro-DFS bill in Indiana might be much easier, as a way to allow some revenue from the popular pastime to remain in-state.

Currently, the major DFS sites are located within the US (but not specifically in Indiana), and they do generally offer their services to players in about 45 of the 50 US states.  American gambling laws vary dramatically from state to state, and as a result, five states are generally excluded by DFS providers: Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington.

Pro-DFS legislation would likely also be opposed by the Indy-based NCAA on “gateway” grounds, and Morrison’s bill would face other obstacles.  For example, Indiana’s current governor, Mike Pence, has declared his intent to block any expansion of gambling within the state.

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