Despite Coronavirus, Indiana Gaming Surprisingly Strong

Despite lower volumes, Indiana casinos in September posted $170 million in win, down just $8 million from September 2019. Sports betting handle surpassed $200 million for the first time as major leagues began or resumed their seasons. Governor Eric Holcomb (l.) thanked Hoosier resiliency.

Indiana casinos were closed from March 16 through June 15 due to Covid-19. They have reopened with reduced occupancy, limited slot machine availability, caps on table game seating, closed poker rooms, reduced restaurant hours and no events or promotions. The Indiana Gaming Commission requires all casino patrons and employees to have their temperature checked before entering, and to wear a mask at all times unless eating or drinking at least six feet away from other individuals. With Covid-19 cases surging in October and November, these health and safety protocols are likely to remain in place for many more months.

Yet despite the limitations, in September the statewide casino win was $170 million, down just $8 million compared to September 2019. Also in September, sports betting handle topped $200 million for the first time as all the major professional sports leagues began or resumed their seasons. But those numbers pale in contrast to the $575 million casino win and $184 million in state and local tax revenue lost during the shutdown.

Governor Eric Holcomb said despite the tax revenue losses, “As our state works to slow the spread of coronavirus, I’m grateful for the years of exceptional stewardship that has allowed Indiana to be financially prepared to face this storm. We will remain dedicated to ensuring Hoosiers receive services without interruption while maintaining Indiana’s trademark fiscal responsibility as we adjust to this new normal.”

Still, local government officials immediately halted infrastructure projects and other municipal spending funded by casino receipts. East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said, “I pray on bended knee that the industry will come back. But I’m far from foolish. I know that if they cranked up tomorrow, it still would take months and months before people that have been affected across the nation who go to these properties will have disposable income. So this is going to be more than a minute, and I realize that.”