The US legal sports betting industry is supposed to be in the midst of an annual seasonal slump, but some already released numbers from participating states show that the downturn may not be as bad as many expected.
The latest state to report on their May sports betting figures is Indiana, which revealed a slight month-to-month increase in betting activity.
It wasn’t all great news for the Indiana legal sports betting scene however. While the May handle increased, profits decreased over the 31-day period. Still, with an overall increase in the legal sports betting in the state, there is a sense of optimism that the summer could possibly exceed previously analysts estimates.
According to a PlayIndiana report released Friday, the state’s sportsbooks took in $254.4 million in wagers in May, both retail and mobile. That represents a 7.6% increase from the $236.4 million April handle but is still miles off of the record $348.2 million taken in during January and a ways away from the $316.7 million reported in March.
Adjusted gross revenues for May slipped a bit month-over-month. Sportsbooks in Indiana made $18.9 million – a 6.1% decline from the $20.1 million in profits reported in April. The dip can be attributed to increased payouts by sportsbooks to players during the month.
“The Hoosier state had an impressive May with increased handle where many states saw a decline. This is a testament to the strength of Indiana’s market, which continues to thrive,” said Bill Ordine, sports betting analyst, Gambling.com Group. “A dip in revenue contributed to a slight dip in tax contributions.”
Other Related Numbers
With the dip in operator revenues came a slight decline in the tax contributions that the state’s sportsbooks paid to top up needy social programs in Indiana. A total of $1.79 million went to state and local coffers – a 6.1% dip from the $1.91 reported in April.
Once again it was Indiana’s mobile betting apps that dominated the overall handle. $234 million, or nearly 92% of May’s $254.4 million overall handle came from internet-based bets, a month-over-month increase of 9% from the $214.58 million that came in from mobile apps in April.
The May sports betting calendar was relatively void of any big events, except for the Indianapolis 500 that may have driven the legal sports betting numbers in the state up. The NBA and NHL playoffs also helped at least mitigate some of the expected losses for the overall Indiana scene during the month.
Basketball, despite no college ball being played and the fact that the Indiana Pacers experienced an early exit from the playoff still was the most bet-on sport in the state during May. Hoops alone accounted for $82.4 million of the overall handle.
Insiders have also pointed to some creativity within the Indiana legal sports betting scene to explain the increase in action during May.
“In open and competitive betting markets such as Indiana, sportsbooks have significant incentive to find alternative events to fuel bettor interest even while the sports calendar is slower,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIndiana.com.
“Whether that means heavy promotion of a Pacers play-in game or future innovations built around the upcoming Olympics, operators will do what they can to hold their market position. And ultimately, that’s good for the entire market.”
Crystal Ball Time
The Indiana legal sports betting scene has maintained their status as one of, if not the most reliable market in the nation. A bump in handle, smack in the middle of an anticipated industry slowdown is a good sign for the state’s scene going forward.
“Even with the expected slowdown over the last two months, no Midwestern state has held its ground better than Indiana,” said Nicole Russo, analyst for PlayIndiana.com.
And then there is the retail/tourism factor that could lead to better-than-expected numbers at Indiana casinos this summer. The world is opening up, and retail looks as though it is ready to finally contribute to the success of the overall Indiana scene.
“The retail market is beginning to show new life as pandemic concerns wane,” Russo said. “Out-of-state bettors remain the lifeblood of the retail market. So long as Ohio and Kentucky resist legalizing sports betting, and pandemic-related restrictions don’t return, retail sportsbooks should continue to return to health.