As of last week, Indiana has joined the growing collection of states with legal online sports betting.
Regulators gave two sportsbooks the green light to launch on October 3, and both did just that. BetRivers received its authorization a week in advance, while DraftKings Sportsbook got a last-minute nod just the day before.
The Hoosier State is the seventh in the US with full mobile betting, joining:
With about 6.7 million residents, Indiana is a fairly small market in terms of population. Comparing it to other states with legal online sports betting, it’s just over twice the size of Nevada and half the size of Pennsylvania.
Even so, operators clearly see a lot of potential there.
The state is home to a large number of brick-and-mortar casinos and other gambling establishments, plus a big base of fervent sport fans. Less than a month into legal retail sports betting, 13 casinos and OTBs have already begun operations.
Despite the density of gambling, local policymakers have been less eager to embrace online options. Most forms of online gambling remain criminalized in Indiana, and there are no plans to legalize and regulate online casinos or poker in the state.
Indiana does not, however, consider games of skill to be “gambling” and is among the states where daily fantasy sports is explicitly legal. That may have been a factor helping DraftKings to be among the first online sportsbooks to receive approval for launch.
Unfortunately, state lawmakers have taken the view that poker’s high short-term variance does not qualify it for this exemption. Expect online poker to remain illegal in the state for the foreseeable future.
That stance may be part of the reason that there are, for now, fewer online options than retail.
Online sports betting has more moving parts in terms of managing player balances, know-your-customer (KYC) requirements, geolocation, and so forth. For a state without experience regulating other forms of online gambling, the to-do list is a long one.
Even so, the Indiana Gaming Commission will likely approve a third operator for mobile sports betting by the end of the month. Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait told Legal Sports Report that there will “probably” be another launch before the end of October, though it’s likely still a few weeks out.
In the meantime, eager Indiana sports bettors might be wondering whether to start with DraftKings or BetRivers, and how to choose between them.
Both are known to have good software and reasonable lines, so there’s little to distinguish between the two on that front. DraftKings is of course known for its DFS platform, so it has the edge there for users interested in both verticals.
The primary difference between the two at the moment involves the terms of their first-deposit bonuses and promotions.
BetRivers has a smaller sign-up bonus than DraftKings, but one which is easier to achieve. It offers a full 100% match up to $250 and requires only a single play-through to clear that bonus.
DraftKings offers a bonus up to $500, but it matches only 20% of the deposit amount. Furthermore, it releases only 10% of the bonus immediately and requires a 25:1 playthrough on the remainder by the end of the year. In other words, to take full advantage of the offer requires depositing $2,500 and wagering $11,250 before December 31. There’s also a $200 risk-free bet available until October 14.
DraftKings also has all sorts of daily promos, odds boosts, happy hours and such, while BetRivers offers comparatively little in terms of ongoing promotions.
Ultimately a dozen or more online operators should find their way into Indiana, though it may be a while before they’re all up and running. DraftKings figures to be the one to beat at first due to its head-start and pre-existing database of DFS customers, but the market should be highly competitive once the likes of Fox Bet and FanDuel are in the game.