COVID-19 Reduced Indiana’s Monthly Betting Handle By $112 Million

  • In March, Indiana recorded its second-lowest monthly sports betting handle and its lowest monthly revenue total on record.
  • Handle decreased over 60% and revenue decreased over 50% from February.
  • Because of the widespread sports shutdowns caused by COVID-19, Indiana sportsbooks had only 11 full days of operation.
  • The sports world is shut down indefinitely, so this March revenue may need to last a while.

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s experienced its worst full month of sports betting handle in March. Indiana sportsbooks only had roughly 11 days of full operation before the novel coronavirus began shutting down major sporting events around the world.

Indiana’s total sports betting handle for March was only $74.8 million, a 60% decrease from February. From those bets, Indiana collected $5.5 million in revenue, a 50.5% decrease from the previous month.

The hold rate on these bets was a healthy 7.35%, although that figure is likely inflated because of the way in which bets are tallied.

Unsurprisingly, basketball was the most popular sport to bet on at Indiana sportsbooks, accounting for $35 million of the total handle, with football coming in a distant second place at $742,000.

On March 11, the NBA made the unprecedented decision to shut down its season to fight the spread of COVID-19, and college basketball conferences canceled their own tournaments the next day. In other words, after March 11, there was little for Indiana bettors to put action on.

March represented Indiana’s lowest sports betting handle since September 2019, the first partial month of operation for in-state sportsbooks. March’s revenue total was by far the lowest on record, over $3 million less than the $8.6 million during the September launch.

Implications Of Indiana’s March Sports Betting Revenue

While the raw numbers are disappointing, they can be extrapolated into a full month betting projection that looks much more encouraging. Over a full, 31-day month, Indiana was on pace to total $193.3 million in handle and $14.2 million in revenue, both record highs.

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At the same time, all the numbers provided for March 2020 should be taken with a grain of salt. The total sports betting handle includes futures bets, most of which would have been refunded to players as nearly every major sporting event for the next few months, including March Madness, was canceled.

Individual bets are not itemized and released publicly, so there is no way to know for sure what percentage of bets were futures.

Given Indiana’s love of basketball and the fact that March Madness was less than a week away when sports began shutting down, it’s safe to assume that there were a healthy number of futures bets on the tournament.

Now that COVID-19 has gripped the country, casino sportsbooks likely won’t reopen for months. Online sports betting is legal in Indiana, so casinos could continue seeing revenue from that. But with few events to bet on, that revenue will likely be negligible.

With no definitive timetable for the return of sports, March could be the last significant month of revenue for a long time. Various leagues have contemplated altered schedule formats to facilitate an early return from shutdown, but the risk to public health will likely outweigh the need to play sports.