ccording to analysts from PlayIndiana, in December, the state became the fifth in U.S. history to surpass $300 million in bets in a month, ending 2020 with four consecutive record months, more than $1.75 billion in bets, and passing $2 billion in lifetime wagers.
"Nothing could have recouped the revenue losses from the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament and much of the baseball season," said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com. "But a lot went right this fall for sportsbooks, and it was on full display in December. The Indianapolis Colts, Notre Dame and Indiana football all continued to attract significant wagering. Then a full month of college basketball, which is more important in Indiana than most anywhere else, and the start of the NBA season added a year-end boost. The strong finish made it so that 2020 represented a big leap forward despite all the challenges."
Indiana sportsbooks took in $313.1 million in December, according to official reporting released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission. December's wagers were up 93.5% from $161.8 million in December 2019 and topped the record $251.4 million set in November.
December's wagers generated $24.1 million in adjusted gross operator revenue, according to PlayIndiana's own tabulations, nearly doubling the $12.1 million set in December 2019. The month's bets yielded $2.3 million in state taxes.
For the year, Indiana's retail and online sportsbooks produced $1.8 billion in bets, including $1.5 billion in online wagering; $138.4 million in gross operator revenue; and $13.2 million in state taxes.
Since launching, Indiana's sportsbooks have attracted $2.2 billion in wagers.
"The first full year of operation for Indiana's sports betting industry was anything but normal, but ultimately it managed to steady itself and end the year on a roll," said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIndiana.com. "The state faced a pandemic that shuttered retail sportsbooks, a shutdown of major sports for four months, and a record-setting sports betting launch in neighboring Illinois that siphoned off a key market for the state. But sportsbooks were creative in their perseverance, and it paid enormous dividends as the year went on."
Online betting generated 84% of December's handle, or $263.1 million. DraftKings/Ameristar Casino led with $112.7 million in online bets and $5.1 million in gross receipts.
Retail sportsbooks generated $50 million in wagers, down from $51.2 million in December 2019. Hollywood Lawrenceburg led retailers with a $12 million handle.
Football made up 32% of the handle, while basketball made up 29%.
"Online sports betting has buoyed the industry all year as a number of challenges have hit the retail market, especially the pandemic," Welman said. "Indiana's retail market will continue to be important, especially once the pandemic ends, but online betting will remain the vehicle of choice for sports bettors."
Indiana is also working to legalize online casino gaming and poker. Online casino games are a more predictable revenue generator than sports betting. In Pennsylvania, gamblers bet $2.2 billion on online casino games and poker in November, resulting in $59.8 million in operator revenue, easily topping sports betting.
"The states where both are legal, online casinos games tend to dwarf sports betting in terms of both revenue and the money wagered," Gouker said. "More is bet every month, and the win is more predictable with far fewer fluctuations from month to month. For a state like Indiana, such a dependable revenue source is unquestionably attractive."