NewsPublic Affairs / April 11, 2020

Gambling Revenue Plummets In March Due To Virus Restrictions

Betters line up to place wagers after sports betting became legal in Indiana at the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville, Ind., Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.  - AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Betters line up to place wagers after sports betting became legal in Indiana at the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville, Ind., Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s gambling revenue plunged in March after the state banned large gatherings to stem the spread of the coronavirus, forcing the closure of casinos and the cancellation of major sporting events.

The state received about $29 million in gambling tax revenue last month, a drop of 52 percent from roughly $60 million in February, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

Total casino revenue was $98 million in March, down from $196 million the month before. Over the same period, the amount of money wagered was $75 million, a fall of about 60 percent from the amount wagered in February.

The Indiana Gaming Commission ordered 11 casinos and two horse-track racing casinos to close March 16. Though mobile sports wagering can continue, the widespread cancellation and delay of sporting events has substantially restricted what gamblers can bet on.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Sports gambling bets had been expected to increase in March, primarily due to the NCAA basketball tournament, but that competition was canceled. Conference tournaments were called off before most games were played.

Regardless, people in Indiana still managed to bet $35 million on basketball in the month.

“Last March, states with similar sports-betting regulations like New Jersey and Pennsylvania saw their revenue essentially double from February to March, thanks to the biggest event in sports betting, the NCAA basketball tournaments,” Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for Gambling.com Group said in an email. “While it’s hard to predict the full impact, it’s safe to say Indiana only achieved a fraction of its gaming revenue potential for March.”

Adjusted gross revenue for the sportsbooks was $5.5 million, which is the lowest amount since Indiana legalized sports betting in September.

Bichsel noted that sports wagering won’t fully end, because people can still bets on the NFL and WNBA drafts, which are slated for later this month. Other less popular sports, such as table tennis, are still being played in some countries.

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